Sodexo, at the University of Southern Maine, prioritizes sustainable practices as part of our Better Tomorrow Plan. It is our goal to improve quality of life for those we serve and create positive change for individuals, communities and the environment. When you dine with us, you'll experience trayless service to reduce waste, compostable napkins, menu icons identifying local products and a variety of posted information about our initiatives.
The Maine Course is Sodexo’s commitment to make a positive economic impact in the state of Maine through the purchase of local products, produce, services and responsibly harvested underutilized seafood from the Gulf of Maine. We promote this through our daily menus, educational handouts, and by inviting local farmers, fishermen and business owners to campus for vendor fair events. Visit our Maine Course website to learn more!
Also, check out this case study, including both a brief history and a peek into the future of the Maine Course: Collaboration for Sustainability and Economic Impact
Maine Course Commitments
Maine Grain Alliance
Through our Maine Course program, our partnership with the Maine Grains Alliance and Maine Grains, from Skowhegan, has grown significantly. USM Dining uses local Maine flour in our cookies - which are all baked from scratch daily! We are also incorporating more Maine Grains products such as oats and farrow in our menus. Our commitment over the next few years is to double the number of menu items that include grains, using local grains in those dishes and increase local grain purchasing by 50 percent. We're focusing on offering plant-forward options and continuing to source additional local ingredients. We are committed to making a positive impact on the environment and economy of Maine!
Sodexo has achieved serving 100% Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested® white fish at all of their locations in Maine after a five year process of shifting purchasing to this ecolabel in partnership with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI). By committing to source responsibly harvested seafood from the Gulf of Maine, Sodexo actively contributes to sustaining both a diverse marine ecosystem and a diverse fishing economy here in the Gulf of Maine region. Look for a variety of delicious menu items featuring the "under-loved" species; Atlantic Pollock, Cape Shark/Dogfish, Whiting, Acadian Redfish and Mackerel.
Henry P. Kendall Foundation Food Vision Prize
Bringing Frozen Maine-Grown Produce to New England (Prize Awarded in 2019)
The availability of local food year-round is limited in New England, due to the short growing season. In northern New England, this effect is magnified. The University of Maine at Farmington and the University of Maine at Presque Isle in partnership with their dining service provider Sodexo and partners at the Good Shepherd Food Bank and Maine-based food producer Wyman’s, will endeavor to develop vegetable freezing capability in Maine, which represents a first-in-the-area opportunity to meet demand for locally sourced and processed produce at a price the local market can afford. Vegetables that are sustainably grown in New England will be sold into institutional markets and will also enhance nutrition in hunger relief channels, capitalizing on the Food Bank’s existing network including distribution routes to the K-12 market.
Institutions such as those within the University of Maine system–and partner Sodexo–look for local options when purchasing food, but the limited growing season and the lack of a local freezing facility restricts what is available to them. This means during the winter and spring months, when fresh, local produce is not available, they must rely on produce from further away, produce that retains fewer nutrients and come from larger commercial farms that use higher levels of pesticides and herbicides to support their volume. As Maine’s farmers are able to provide more local product, more healthy, locally-grown food will then be available year round.
This project will be transformational for enabling local food consumption by institutions and all consumers year-round. In addition, the project will create significant market opportunity for farmers who are currently restricted in growing product primarily for only the fresh market. By having local product available year-round, the project team hopes that institutional buyers and consumers will begin to view local food consumption as a year-round focus.
The second phase of the project includes creating a mission-branded, retail line that leverages the selling power of local products and the social impact component of the product reducing hunger in the region. Partners have begun conversations with a major, regional supermarket chain who is interested in carrying the product line. This would make affordable, locally, processed vegetables available to all consumers, year-round. With the Food Bank as a partner, the project also connects local food with low-income consumers and the institutions that serve them, thereby improving access to healthy food for the most marginalized communities.
We recycle to reduce and reuse material. On campus we recycle the following products: cardboard, glass, steel, aluminum, paper, and plastic.
Xpress Nap dispensers save energy and waste. Not only are the napkins are made of 100% recycled paper, the dispensers encourage customers to take (and waste) fewer napkins. Energy is saved because less power is used to recycle paper products than to create them from virgin material.
Food waste in landfills creates methane, a greenhouse gas which is 21x more potent than CO2. (www.epa.gov) Our first priority is to reduce food waste by offering serving size portions and trayless dining. Then, we work with departments on campus to deliver our collected pre and post consumer food waste to the compost area, for future use in the greenhouses. We compost food waste to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also enhance and amend soil health by improving soil structure, enhancing micro-organism content, increasing drought tolerance and reducing need for water and fertilizers.