Scaling Up Local in Maine – See you there?

We couldn’t be more excited about the two upcoming Maine Course Scaling Up Events on November 1st and November 3rd.  Are you a farmer, fishermen, or food processor looking to learn more about selling to institutions in Maine? If so, this event is for you!

Register for the Scaling Up Events


On November 1st and 3rd the Sodexo in partnership with the University of Maine System will hold the inaugural Scaling Up Events as part of the Maine Course initiative.

This one-day forum is a supply chain training and networking opportunity for growers, processors, and distributors. The goal of this event is to foster collective learning about selling locally grown and/or manufactured products within the commercial and non-commercial food service industry. Sodexo leadership from the state of Maine along with their supply management team will be working together to further this conversation on these very important topics.

In 2015, Sodexo made a commitment to the state of Maine to increase local food purchasing at all of accounts in Maine, a commitment called the Maine Course.  You are invited to come learn more about how Sodexo’s Maine Course commitment will impact local purchasing in Maine and if selling, or increasing current sales, into the food service industry might be the right fit for your operation.

Topics covered are intended to build business to business relationships between the producers, distributors, and buyers in the room, including topics like:

  • How Sodexo’s food procurement works
  • How the University of Maine Orono’s food procurement works
  • Maine Course as a local procurement strategy
  • Trends in the food service industry
  • Regional and national distributor interfacing
  • Approved vendor process
  • Stories from producers about their path in selling to Sodexo

If you are interested in attending, we ask that you register for the event nearest you.

NOTE: The content of the events will be the same at each location therefore you need only attend one date.

Registration for the November 1st event:


Registration for the November 3rd event:


Vermont First Model Spreads to Maine

A core goal of Vermont First is to create a local food strategic purchasing model that can be replicated in other states and regions.  Just under a year since I began as the Vermont First Coordinator, we are excited to see the model taking hold in a fellow New England state – Maine.

Below is the recent announcement about the hire of the new Maine Course Director, Maeve McInnis.

I’m looking forward to working closely with my new Maine counterpart to continue to build a robust and innovative local purchasing model.


January 26, 2016


Press Contact:

Varun Avasthi

Telephone: 207.649.4948

Email: varun.avasthi


Maeve McInnis Hired to Serve as Director of Sodexo’s Maine Course

Portland, ME. January 26, 2016 – Sodexo has hired Maeve Maeve McInnis Profile 2 (3)McInnis to serve as the first
director of the company’s Maine Course program.  Sodexo’s Maine Course, a statewide initiative created to prioritize serving local and sustainably harvested food at all of the company’s healthcare, education, government, and corporate client sites in Maine, was introduced in June 2015. The initiative includes partnering with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) to purchase 100% responsibly harvested whitefish from the Gulf of Maine by 2020. Sodexo made great strides in the first six months of the program, with several locations already meeting the 100% purchasing goal. To take this commitment to sustainable food sourcing and local economic impact to the next level, the company recently selected McInnis to lead its ongoing efforts.

McInnis will build on Sodexo’s sustainability foundation in the state by working with Maine producers to assist them in understanding and navigating the intricacies of the wholesale market. She will also work with vendors in the supply chain to help them access a larger customer base through established distribution networks. According to the state’s Agricultural Resource Development Division, there are 8,173 farms in Maine, which have a $1.2 billion impact on the state’s economy. In addition to her efforts to build relationships with Maine-based producers, McInnis will also focus on tracking progress and provide statistical analysis and data to drive action around efforts to support the Maine economy.

“I am most excited to forge relationships with local farmers and food producers in an effort to bring them into our supply-chain in a mutually beneficial manner,” McInnis said, explaining the positive impact these relationships can have on small, independent businesses. “Together, we can address some of the roadblocks that smaller growers and producers face to becoming a vendor for large institutions.”

McInnis, originally from Cape Neddick, ME and a current resident of Portland, earned a master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management with a specialization in Food & the Environment from the Milano School of International Relations, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School in New York.  Her passion for social justice, local food systems, and the environment make her the perfect person to lead this effort to serve more local food at a variety of sites throughout Maine.

A Plug for the Maine Course

While I am and will remain the cheerleader for all things Vermont, I would be remiss to not mention some of the great work happening in our fellow New England state – Maine.

For a quick comparative study of Maine and Vermont agriculture, look here.

maine and vermont production comparison

(Data from Vermont Food Atlas)

Pay particular attention to the dark blue – vegetables, melons, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.  As much emphasis we place on vegetable production in Vermont, Maine’s current production capacity is considerably larger than what we can produce here in Vermont.  I find that this chart really demonstrates that difference – I often forget how much of a difference it is.

Moving beyond produce, the heart of the exciting developments in Maine igmri logos centered around seafood – sustainable seafood (please note the dark green aquaculture in the above comparative chart).  In partnership with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Sodexo has been deeply involved in creating a market for under-utilized fish species, like dogfish, redfish, and hake.  Sodexo is engaged in the research to create the market for fisheries to supply these multiple fish species – which previously have seldom appeared on any type of menu – to local consumers on campuses.  See for yourself.  This highly-acclaimed partnership and the resulting market development work have come to be cornerstones of Maine’s equivalent of Vermont First – the Maine Course.

There is certainly a lot that Vermont First can borrow from Maine Course, and we like being in good company as we work on ambitious, market-changing initiatives.  A pat on the back to our friends in Maine, and a huge thanks for the delicious lobster dinner last night in Biddeford (pronounced Bid-ehh-fehd) at the University of New England!