by Maine Course
Posted on February 26, 2018 at 2:59 PM
Tiia Kand**, January 2018
2017: A year of great numbers for Sodexo and the Maine Course.
In early January 2018, Sodexo had the opportunity to present at the annual State of Maine Agricultural Trades Show that takes place to serve as a source for agricultural resources and products. There were several topics discussed with a variety of people from farmers to dietitians to program managers or to those interested in all things local. Attendees of the Trades Show heard the most exciting news first hand;as of December of 2017 23% of all purchases for the University of Maine System were local!
I was happy to attend this event and hear the perspective of all the attendees and their ideas on local purchasing. It’s promising to know such a diverse group of people in Maine are interested in the same goals. Personally, being passionate about the food industry with a focus on sustainability and nutrition, I can only say enthusiastic things about the Maine Courses initiative and its mission. I am currently minoring in Food Studies at the University of Southern Maine and it’s opened my eyes to all the potential opportunities and positive impacts surrounding local purchasing. I look forward to exploring these opportunities and helping other students see them as well!
The Maine Course Priority Products
The Trade Show
The Trade Show is a great opportunity for producers and consumers to learn more about current programs within the agricultural industry and with Sodexo’s Maine Course there as a presenter, attendees were able to learn more about how the farmers work is supported by the purchases made by Sodexo! The presenters included Maeve McInnis, the Maine Course Director, 2 Executive Chefs and 2 District Managers. They explained what local means to Sodexo and how it benefits the community as well. Local is defined by the Maine Course as Maine-made; anything grown, produced or harvested within the state of Maine. The local food purchases consist of 120 local farms and business that are utilized in the University dining halls across Maine!
The growth of partnerships and commitments throughout the community are crucial in being able to offer local foods. The University of Maine Systems commitment to source 20% local food by 2020, which they surpassed as previously mentioned, not only benefits the food producers but also the environment and our overall health aspects! With less travel in transport and processing, foods are fresher, contain more flavor, and directly support the farmers or business they come from.
Through the Maine Course, there are a select group of fruits and vegetables called Priority Products that will be sourced locally 100% when they are in season which only provides more incentive and resources for Maine farmers and distributors to expand their local impact.
How is this done?
The attendees of the presentation learned about the positive impact local food purchasing has throughout Maine. Attendees also learned how data tools are used to track food during purchasing. This type of data can help production planning for farmers and support business in understanding product demand of the Maine Course initiative.
Executive Chefs Doug Winslow and Wendy Benney with Maeve McInnis
As a student, in addition to supporting the food being offered in our campus dining halls, it is also possible for us to purchase local goods at various stores, markets or directly from a farmer or producer. By expressing the desire for local foods in Maine, they might become more prevalent and affordable for everyone.
Taking a second to step back and recognize that the local produce and foods offered in the dining halls might change the way you see the vegetables you usually don’t like to try due to the direct link impacting yourself, the environment, and the agricultural community.
What to Expect
Emphasis was brought upon the 4 goals of the Maine Course: to increase local purchasing, partnerships, shared values and awareness and to provide chefs and managers with the correct tools. The Maine Course has already made commitments with outside partners such as The Gulf of Maine Research Institute. The benefits of the commitments and tools to tracking purchases have made for consistency, clear communication, and an expectation for farmers.
Look for these encouraging accomplishments throughout all campuses: 15 different committed priority products of produce from local farms, all fresh whitefish is sourced from The Gulf of Maine, local poultry has been added to contract with Central Maine Meats, and a new partnership with farms such as Circle B Farms.
The presentation at the Trades Show only briefly covered all the amazing work that The Maine Course is doing. The great numbers of 2017 will continue to grow, and more goals will be reached. Follow the progress through social media and the programs or events coming to your campus soon!
**Tiia Kand is the Maine Course Intern based at the University of Southern Maine where she is majoring in Business with a Minor in Food Studies. She is writing a series of blog posts for the Spring 2018.
There are no comments yet