To provide Maine institutions with the highest possible percentage of healthy, local foods with a focus on a quadruple bottom line model: Social, Environmental, Economics, Diet & Health.
What Drives Us
Local healthy food is abundant in Maine but studies show that Maine institutions are not purchasing much of it. Maine Farm and Sea Cooperative has risen to the challenge of maximizing local purchasing by:
Engaging with institutions, food service directors, local food producers and harvesters
Addressing the decline in food production and processing operations
Expanding the role of agriculture in our state economy with increased sales
We bring local healthy food into institutions through hands on technical training, stratetic marketing, and a proven nine-step implementation plan.
It all started with the University of Maine students demanding more local food in the their food service operations. Due to a number of colleges and universities around the country adopting the 20% local by 2020 pledge, this created an opportunity for a team of local Maine professionals to convene and form the Maine Farm and Sea Cooperative: the nation's first fully integrated food service & consulting organization. It is Maine owned with collaborative members including consumers, producers and employee members. Its goal was to change the way University of Maine procured and served healthy local food to students, workers, and their communities.
“With increasing demand for locally grown food by consumers and students alike, we felt the time was right to bring local foods to an institutional level,” says Ron Adams, Chief Operating Officer, “While our initial goal is securing the University of Maine System food service management contract, our larger goal is to provide locally produced food and food services to a number of institutions. As a locally owned business, we will re-invest our profits in Maine by creating new management positions, paying workers a fair wage and investing in rural economies.”
In 2015, the University of Maine System issued a request for proposal for their dining services contract, which had been held for 10 years by Aramark, a Philadelphia-based food service giant, which along with Sodexo and Compass Group control 90% of the world’s food service management. Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative submitted a bid on November 4, 2015 to the UMaine System and in December was selected to present as a finalist for the contract. While the UMaine System announced that they had selected Sodexo who was able to invest $14 million into the campuses, they did adopt Maine Farm and Sea Cooperative's commitment to source 20% local (Maine) food, geographically within 175 miles of the UMaine System campuses within the FIRST YEAR OF OPERATION!
This brings us to Maine Farm and Sea Cooperative today. While the local food economy is still a frequent topic today, the use of local foods in institutions continues to lag behind due to accessibility, marketing, and utilization barriers. Increasing institutional local food purchases will support more jobs in food aggregation, supply and ultimately restore food processing jobs that have been lost over the past 10 years. We have refocused our efforts to explore new institutional contracts, provide expertise in implementing local food integration strategies through the use of MFSC's Nine Step Implementation Planning Guide, and support institutions with business development, feasibility studies, technical training, nutrition education, food operational management, and strategic marketing.
Our sight is set high because Maine is worth it. Land and sea harvesters/producers, food producers, and organizations committed to improving local food production in the state, all feel that a cooperative approach is the right way to approach a systemic solution for the state. “Our approach to working with the institutions directly and developing new ways to market all the positive attributes of local foods, such as improving community economies, reducing waste, promoting health and flavors from local healthy foods, and encouraging institutions of all kinds that local food can be used within any budget structure, all through a transparent cooperative model," says Dave Seddon, MBA RD LD, Chief Executive Officer, "Maine is aware of the changes that need to, and should happen, for the health and for the livelihood of all communities. We will be the foundation and hands on support to make it happen.”
Local Food for a Healthier Maine! Let us help you make the difference within your operations.
Dave Seddon, MBA RD LD
Ron Adams was formerly the Director of the Portland Public School Food Services Program overseeing sixteen kitchens serving 5,500 meals daily. He is a prominent advocate for the farm to school movement and food security. He worked with a team of school and community resources in Gorham to reinvent the Maine Harvest Lunch and helped expand it into a statewide event. This team included Sarah Plummer of the Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District; current Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Conservation Director, Amanda Beal; Maine’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, Heather Whitaker from the Gorham Middle School and others.
Ron has worked in child nutrition since 1993 and is a member of the School Nutrition Association and is a credentialed School Nutrition Specialist. In 2010, Portland was included in a CDC Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant to increase fruit and vegetable consumption which added refrigerated salad bars to ten schools, funded a local foods manager and assistant, as well as developing menu nutrition labeling projects. It also helped transform the way food was cooked and served in the largest district in Maine with 7,000 students in 15 schools. In 2013, Food Services opened a new Central Kitchen to complete the switch from hot shipping food to cold shipping meals and heating them on site in order to improve food quality and reduce waste.
Under Ron’s leadership, Portland was awarded a USDA Farm to School Implementation Grant to expand their use of local foods. This culminated in Portland spending 37% of its food budget on local foods in 2014-15. This work was supported by a full-time Foodcorps member working on marketing the school nutrition program.
Ron was instrumental in the formation of MFSC and continues to use his expertise to maximize the use of local foods in Maine institutions. Ron also works as a consultant for the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine directing the national promotion and awareness work with public schools. To round out his credentials and improve food access for all, Ron is pursuing a Masters in Policy, Planning and Management from the USM Muskie School.
With 20+ years building and managing organizations, providing nutrition expertise, and developing strategic business plans, Dave continues to integrate best practices to increase sustainable agricultural and seafood products as a means to promote economic growth and to drive healthy outcomes throughout Maine and New England.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
We are grateful to our members who have volunteered their time to serve on the Board of Directors to ensure the direction and governance of the cooperative comply with the bylaws and mission. Our board is comprised of members from all our membership classes.