UMaine Dining reaches goal of 25% local purchases three years ahead of schedule

UMaine Dining has met its goal of purchasing 25% of its food and beverage from local sources nearly three years ahead of schedule. From July 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022, UMaine DIning purchased 25.96% of its food and beverage from local vendors.

The movement to support local food producers at UMaine started in 2007 under the direction of Glenn Taylor, associate executive director of housing and dining, with carrots purchased from Lakeside Farms in Newport. Since then, the number of local producers partnering to provide Maine-sourced foods has grown to 72.

The University of Maine System defines locally sourced as any food or beverage produced or harvested by a producer or processor, including in Maine, within 175 miles of the University of Maine System’s primary universities. This definition applies to the following food product categories: produce (fruits and vegetables), dairy, eggs, poultry, meat, fish/seafood, baked goods/grains and grocery.

“We’re proud of the strength of our local program,” says Kerry Chasteen, interim director of UMaine Dining. “Buying from local producers supports our local communities and is an important part of our sustainability mission.”

Local foods and beverages are used in the campus dining halls, where an average of 3,170 residential students and 313 commuter students are served during the academic year, and in its on-campus retail locations and catering operations. In 2021–22, more than 399,000 transactions took place to purchase a meal, snack or a beverage from a UMaine Dining retail venue. 

From menu ingredients to condiments, beverages to groceries, local foods are worked into every facet of UMaine Dining’s everyday operations. This includes use in meals and events managed by UMaine Catering.

Local foods are highlighted frequently in special menus at events, including New Student Orientation on June 21–24. Incoming students and their parents were served a local menu that included sweet Italian sausage from W.A. Bean (Bangor, Maine), mustard from Raye’s Mustard (Eastport, Maine), Fox Family Chips (Mapleton, Maine) and Go Blue whoopie pies made by UMaine Dining. UMaine Dining also assisted in sourcing and serving Gifford’s ice cream served during the Black Bear Send Off each day of orientation. 

Beyond being a delicious addition to menus and variety for retail, supporting local producers serves another important purpose, Chasteen notes: it ensures that the local production economy stays strong.

“By supporting our local producers, we’re ensuring that they are able to continue their important role in our economy,” she says. “We’ve heard feedback from our vendors that our business is a major part of their annual bottom line. By supporting them, we’re ensuring that our local partners succeed and our guests benefit from delicious food and beverages on the menu and on the shelves. That’s a win-win for everyone.”

Contact: Debra Bell,