UMaine System surpasses local food goal ahead of schedule, media report

The Portland Press Herald, WABI (Channel 5), Bangor Daily News, Mainebiz, 101.9 The Rock and The Associated Press reported the University of Maine System announced at the Maine Agricultural Trades Show that it already has surpassed the goal it set to source 20 percent of its food from local growers and producers by 2020. The system said it now is getting 23 percent of its food from local growers and processors, the Press Herald reported. Last year, UMaine was at 17 percent local, according to Glenn Taylor, director of Dining Services. Even with some farmers working year-round, produce is seasonal in Maine, and Taylor figured the way to get those numbers up was to focus on meat and poultry. It was the tipping point, he said, adding he surpassed the 20 percent goal this past summer. “I’m proud of that because this has really been about working with the farmers, not the numbers,” Taylor said. John Rebar, executive director of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke about the goal during a luncheon at the agriculture show. “Eighteen months into this plan we’re already at 23 percent, which we see as really the floor, not the ceiling,” he said. “We hope to continue to grow. It represents about $1.5 million of funding that will go into sales that will go into Maine businesses, farms and food processors.” The system believes support of local agricultural is critical to the state’s success, according to WABI. “For Maine’s economy to prosper in the future, we have to drive local need,” Rebar said. Rebar also was interviewed by WVII (Channel 7) and 103.9 WVOM, The Voice of Maine. San Francisco Chronicle and U.S. News & World Report carried the AP article.