UMaine Dining commits to 25% local foods by 2025

By Karina Graeter

A salad with local fiddleheads, mushrooms, and greens. Photo Credit: UMaine Dining Services

This spring, the University of Maine Dining Services announced a commitment to source 25 percent of food products locally by 2025. UMaine’s deep dive into local foods began in 2007, when Director of Dining Services Glenn Taylor partnered with Lakeside Farms in Newport, Maine. By 2015, Dining Services was sourcing 18 percent of food locally (from within 250 miles of campus). That year, the University of Maine System pledged to source 20 percent of food purchases locally by 2020. UMaine and the University of Maine System met that goal two years early in 2018. UMaine Dining currently sources 23 percent of food purchases locally, including 900 individual products from 26 area farms and 33 businesses. It has expanded local food purchases by actively engaging local producers and suppliers across all food categories, from meat and poultry to beverages and fruits.

The benefits of buying local are huge for both students and farmers. Because local food travels fewer miles to get to your plate, local foods are fresher, higher in nutrients and have a smaller environmental impact. Buying local supports Maine families and helps to build communities, and is an investment in a future where Mainers have access to healthy, high-quality foods.

Trayless dining is one of the many ways Dining Services is cutting down on food waste. Photo Credit: UMaine Dining Services

Purchasing local foods is just one of the many initiatives UMaine Dining Services undertakes to incorporate sustainability into its operations. Dining halls have trayless dining to reduce food waste, energy, and water use. Over 400,000 pounds of food scraps and food waste are composted each year in the on-campus in-vessel composting system. Food leftover at the end of each week is donated to the Black Bear Exchange through the Green Campus Initiative’s food recovery program.

Check out UMaine Dining Services’ website to learn more about sustainability and local foods at UMaine. Keep an eye out for the get real. get Maine! stickers on Maine-made foods and products.