Posted May 12, 2016
Students, Farmers & Advocates in Maine Share the Importance of Maine Food for Maine Institutions
As a result of the Maine Food for the UMaine System effort which took place throughout 2015, we have produced a case study and two videos that are now available! The focus is on the coalition efforts to influence the recent multi-million dollar University of Maine System food service contract that resulted in the University System’s commitment to 20% local foods.
Two new videos share student and farmer perspectives on why it's important that Maine institutions buy local food. Take a look:
The Maine Food for the UMaine System coalition delivered recommendations to the UMaine System last summer, which were backed by more than 150 Maine producers, 50 individuals and organizations, and 1,500 students and University of Maine System community members. As a result of these community-based efforts, the University of Maine System included a commitment to 20% local foods by 2020 as a part of their food service bidding process in the Fall of last year.
Sodexo, a multi-national corporation, won the contract and will take over from Aramark in July 2016. They will work on all of the UMaine campuses, except for Orono, because the flagship campus operates its own dining. Sodexo has committed to the 20% goal put forward by the UMaine System, and may even exceed it. These commitments were all made possible as a result of the community pressure and clear recommendations from the Maine Food for the UMaine System coalition.
The two videos that were produced by Farm to Institution New England share perspectives from students and farmers in Maine, highlighting their interest in seeing more commitments to local and ‘Real Food’ from institutions across the state. Many farmers discussed the importance of local food to Maine’s economy and Maine’s communities, and others cite the benefits to students and their health and access to good food. They want institutions to understand that their ability to commit to purchasing more local products WILL help support Maine’s agricultural economy, and they encourage institutions to take more active leadership on this issue.
While the UMaine System didn’t adopt the coalition’s recommendation to procure 20% Real Food, students are still committed to deepening their University System’s commitment to sustainable, fair, and humane food. ‘Real Food’ is food which truly nourishes producers, consumers, communities and the earth and is broken down into four core criteria categories: local/community-based, fair, ecologically sound, and/or humane. The definition is based on a set of rigorously-researched definitions and third-party certifications; it’s currently being used to guide and track institutional procurement at 193 colleges and universities nation-wide.
The Maine Food for the UMaine System case study provides an overview of how the coalition organized and influenced the University of Maine System food service contracting process. Within the case study you will find a summary of the campuses that were a part of the contracting process, a timeline, lessons learned, and additional resources.
The Maine Food for the UMaine System is a coalition made up of organizations and individuals who are working to build a stronger and more sustainable, fair and resilient food system in Maine. The steering committee organizations are Farm to Institution New England, Maine Farmland Trust, Real Food Challenge, and Environment Maine.