Maine Course Commitments
The Maine Course is Sodexo's commitment to make a positive economic impact in the state of Maine through the purchase of local products, produce, services, and responsibly harvested underutilized seafood from the Gulf of Maine. We promote this through our daily menus, educational handouts, and by inviting local farmers, fisherman and business owners to campus for vendor fair events. Visit mainecoursebysodexo.com to learn more!
This year, we're excited to announce our partnership with Maine Grains, from Skowhegan, Maine. We are using only local Maine flour in our cookies served in South Dining Hall - which are all baked from scratch daily! We are also incorporating more Maine Grains products such as oats and farrow (and more!) in our menus. We're focusing on more plant-forward menus and to continue sourcing more and more local ingredients. We are committed to making a positive impact on the environment and economy of Maine!
Maine Grains Alliance
Through our Maine Course Program, our partnership with the Maine Grains Alliance and Maine Grains, from Skowhegan, has grown significantly. UMF dining uses local Maine flour in our cookies - which are all baked from scratch daily! We are also incorporating more Maine Grains products such as oats and farrow in our menu's. Our commitment over the next few years is to double the number of menu items that include grains, using local grains in those dishes to increase local grain purchasing by 50 percent. We're focusing on offering plant-forward options and continuing to source additional local ingredients. We are committed to making a positive impact on the environment and economy in Maine.
Sodexo has achieved serving 100% Gild of Maine Responsibly harvested white fish at all of their locations in Maine after a five year process of shifting purchasing to this ecolabel in partnership with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI). By committing to source responsibly harvested seafood from the Gulf of Maine, Sodexo contributes to sustaining both a diverse marine ecosystem and a diverse fishing economy here in the Gulf of Maine Region. Look for a variety of delicious menu items featuring "under-loved" species; Atlantic Pollock, Cape Shark/Dogfish, Whiting, Acadian Redfish and Mackerel.
Henry P. Kendall Foundation Food Vision Prize
The availability of local food year-round is limited in New England, due to the short growing season. In northern New England, this effect is magnified. The University of Maine at Farmington and the University of Maine at Presque Isle in partnership with their dining service provider Sodexo and partners at the Good Shepherd Food Bank and Maine-based food producer Wyman’s, will endeavor to develop vegetable freezing capability in Maine, which represents a first-in-the-area opportunity to meet demand for locally sourced and processed produce at a price the local market can afford. Vegetables that are sustainably grown in New England will be sold into institutional markets and will also enhance nutrition in hunger relief channels, capitalizing on the Food Bank’s existing network including distribution routes to the K-12 market.
Institutions such as those within the University of Maine system–and partner Sodexo–look for local options when purchasing food, but the limited growing season and the lack of a local freezing facility restricts what is available to them. This means during the winter and spring months, when fresh, local produce is not available, they must rely on produce from further away, produce that retains fewer nutrients and come from larger commercial farms that use higher levels of pesticides and herbicides to support their volume. As Maine’s farmers are able to provide more local product, more healthy, locally-grown food will then be available year round.
This project will be transformational for enabling local food consumption by institutions and all consumers year-round. In addition, the project will create significant market opportunity for farmers who are currently restricted in growing product primarily for only the fresh market. By having local product available year-round, the project team hopes that institutional buyers and consumers will begin to view local food consumption as a year-round focus.
The second phase of the project includes creating a mission-branded, retail line that leverages the selling power of local products and the social impact component of the product reducing hunger in the region. Partners have begun conversations with a major, regional supermarket chain who is interested in carrying the product line. This would make affordable, locally, processed vegetables available to all consumers, year-round. With the Food Bank as a partner, the project also connects local food with low-income consumers and the institutions that serve them, thereby improving access to healthy food for the most marginalized communities.
We encourage trayless dining as part of our Better Tomorrow Plan. Avoiding trays reduces water usage in the dish room. Additionally, dining without a tray makes it easier to not take more food than you can eat, reducing the amount of food waste in the dining hall.
You can view the list of our local suppliers on the chalkboard in the dining hall. Look for new suppliers from whom we source food in order to positively impact the local economy and reduce our carbon footprint. You can also look for the Maine Course logo on menus to see where your food comes from.