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.
In June 2015, we released our recommendations to the University of Maine System for its upcoming food contract, backed by more than 150 Maine producers, 50 individuals and organizations, and 1,500 students and University of Maine System community members.
The University of Maine System will put out a request for proposals (RFP) for a new food service vendor contract this coming month and accept proposals from vendors in late fall of 2015. Its most recent contract, which will come to a close at the end of the 2015-16 academic year, was a ten-year, $12.5 million annual contract with the food service corporation Aramark. The current contract, and likely the next one, apply to all of the campuses except for the main campus in Orono, which operates its own food service.
The recommendations by the “Maine Food for the UMaine System” coalition, submitted to the UMS Office of Strategic Procurement and the Food Service Request for Proposal Committee, set four high-priority recommendations:
- A quantitative commitment to 20% Maine Food and 20% ‘Real Food’ by 2020
- The establishment of a UMS Food Working Group
- Transparent tracking and metrics
- A commitment to a supply chain partnership with Maine producers
The recommendations also detail suggestions for sustainability expectations, equity and diversity, menu planning, and education and marketing.
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:
September 1, 2015: UMaine System’s ‘Local’ Requirement in Food Service RFP a Great First Step
Our Maine Food for the UMaine System project was featured in Modern Farmer, the Boston Globe, the Portland Press Herald Online (twice!), Maine Insights, MPBN NEWS and Bangor Daily News state and opinion columns.
"Thank you for all the hard, smart work by the Campaign – without it, it's doubtful UMaine would have made a commitment to Maine producers a priority in its dining services RFP." - Christine James, John Merck Fund
"This was an amazing effort, and I was proud to be a part of it – thank you all for your hard work and congratulations on the successes!" - Kyle Foley, Gulf of Maine Research Institute
For more information about the collaborative Maine Food for UMaine project, contact FINE's farm to college project manager, Riley Neugebauer, at [email protected].