UMaine System Food Service Management Contract Awarded

Danielle Walczak, Farm & Sea to Campus Communications Intern

UMaine System Food Service Management Contract Awarded

After bidding process, five-year contract awarded to Sodexo

French food service provider, Sodexo, was awarded the University of Maine System’s food service management contract on Tuesday. The five-year contract will serve six campuses and is worth $12.5 million annually, according to the Portland Press Herald.

Sodexo will now work with the UMaine System to reach the campus’ new goal of 20 percent local food by 2020—a marker included in the UMaine System’s Request for Proposals (RFP) after the Maine Food for the UMaine System Coalition released a list of recommendations in June 2015, with support from  over 150 Maine producers, 50 individuals and organizations, and 1,500 students and UMaine System community members.  The Maine Food for the UMaine System Coalition was an effort that FINE helped to spearhead, along with Real Food Challenge, Environment Maine, and Maine Farmland Trust.

Sodexo, a multi-billion dollar company that provides food for institutions in 80 countries, beat out another national food service provider, Aramark, and the state-based Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative, for the contract. After the Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative promised to meet the 20 percent goal within the first year of the contract, with an aim to reach 30 percent local food by 2021, Sodexo matched the pledge, while offering a $14 million infrastructure investment on the UMaine System's campuses. The Portland Press Herald reported the investment will improve campus facilities, offer internships, and provide catering services to the UMaine System campuses.

Currently the UMaine System provides about 3,000 meal-plan students with food in Presque Isle, Augusta, Farmington, Machias, Fort Kent, and Portland. The University of Maine in Orono is self-operated. The Orono campus shares the commitment of 20 percent local food by 2020, and currently makes 18 percent of their food purchases, for 4000 meal plans, from Maine, according to the Portland Press Herald.

The remaining applicants will now have five days to respond to the system’s request before the system enters into contract negotiations with Sodexo, according to the Bangor Daily News.

The UMaine System’s contract was previously held for 10 years by Aramark.

FINE will continue the conversation with the UMaine System as they look towards implementation and ongoing governance of the contract, which will begin July 1, 2016.  FINE also hopes to learn more about Sodexo’s plans for local sourcing, and their recent hire of Maeve McInnis to assist in that effort.  McInnis was recently hired as director of Sodexo's Maine Course initiative, which prioritizes local and sustainable food purchasing with Sodexo’s clients throughout the state.