Students at Regional School Unit 13 schools are eating fresher meals, thanks to their peers taking culinary arts classes at the Mid-Coast School of Technology.

The Shared Production Program, which is a collaborative effort of the RSU 13 food service and the technology school’s culinary arts program, not only teaches students about cooking techniques but also offers students in the other schools the chance to eat homemade meals.

The program is overseen by Charles Butler, RSU 13 food service director, and Josh Gamage, culinary instructor at the technology school on Main Street in Rockland. The Mid-Coast School of Technology educates students from Camden Hills, Georges Valley, Islesboro, Lincoln Academy, Medomak Valley, North Haven, Rockland District and Vinalhaven high schools. The technology school offers hands-on programs that include professional culinary arts.

In the culinary arts program, the students cook and bake for students and faculty at the technology school, and cater to some area nursing homes. Butler and Gamage decided last year to broaden their experience, as well as enhance the RSU 13 food service. In most of the schools’ kitchens, the staff makes some homemade meals but has little time to prepare homemade cookies or experiment with new menus.

The Shared Production Program is a natural fit, because food supplies are sent to the well-equipped technology school kitchen, with fresh ingredients predominating. There, students chop, slice and dice more than 150 pounds of vegetables, bake more than 2,800 cookies, 2,000 yeast rolls, 90 loaves of Italian bread, and large pans of apple crisp, and make gallons of gravy, soup, and slaw — all in one week.

The students also produce large pans of lasagna, turkey pot pie, and more. The food is wrapped, packaged and distributed to each school as needed. Butler and Gamage said they hope to introduce other types of cuisine, such as vegetable sushi. The students will learn more skills and the high school cafeterias will benefit with expanded menus.

No money changes hands, because Butler would be ordering the ingredients for the schools anyway. It’s all just a new take on preparing the food, he said.

The Mid-Coast School of Technology also has a cafe that will be open to the public for breakfast from 8:30 to 10 a.m. and for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for approximately six weeks between February and April school vacations.

Proceeds from the cafe are used to buy equipment for the school and any tips are used for field trips, downtown shopping or a lunch out for the students.