Sustainable Food Systems Research Collaborative

Institution: University of Maine
Sponsor: Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions

Basket of foodCreating and maintaining sustainable food systems is a critical and growing challenge to global society. The impacts of population growth, demographic shifts, climate change, and income inequality are felt throughout the food system at all levels. Maine ranks first in New England in food insecurity—23.9 percent of Maine’s children are food insecure. The necessity for research on sustainable food systems has been foregrounded in both the 2012 GrowSmart Maine report, Charting Maine’s Future: Making Headway and the Agricultural Council of Maine’s Strategic Plan 2013-2020. Studying food systems is necessarily interdisciplinary as it requires consideration of agricultural practices, geography, the influence of climate (and climate change), economic factors in production, processing, distribution, marketing, and consumption as well as social, ethical, and political concerns. Improved knowledge of the interaction of these factors will lead to a better understanding of the issues underlying sustainable food systems and food insecurity and will enable potential solutions.

This interdisciplinary research collaborative focuses on sustainable food systems in Maine including sustainable food production, food sovereignty, food security, and food democracy. The Sustainable Food Systems Research Collaborative (SFSRC) includes committed participants (faculty, students, and staff) from units at UMaine—Honors, NSFA, CLAS, the Maine Business School, Cooperative Extension—and community partners, Food and Medicine (FAM), the Maine Food Strategy, the Good Shepherd Food Bank, and MOFGA. Additional potential partners for the SFSRC include the Lobster Institute, Maine Rural Partners, and the Maine Farm Bureau. The SFSRC builds on SSI’s strong foundation of research and application, while advancing the model into a new and pressing area of concern in our state.

Team members:

  • Mark Haggerty, Rezendes Preceptor of Civic Engagement, Honors College
  • Melissa Ladenheim, Honors Preceptor and Coordinator of Advancement, Honors College
  • Linda Silka, Senior Fellow, Senator George J. Mitchell Center
  • François G. Amar, Dean, Honors College

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