The dining operations at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) and the University of Maine at Machias (UMM) recently achieved the goal of sourcing 100% Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested® white fish, making them Champions in the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) seafood program. College dining hall food today is not what it once was – more and more, colleges are turning food into a way to attract students and an opportunity to positively impact the local economy. Academic institutions like the University of Maine System (UMS) are working hard to bring students, staff, and the surrounding community fresh, sustainable, and increasingly local meal options.
UMF and UMM joined GMRI’s Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested program in 2016 as members of the Maine Course initiative by Sodexo, the company that manages their foodservice operation. The GMRI program’s ecolabel identifies seafood that is traceable back to the Gulf of Maine region and species that meet important criteria around responsible harvest. 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. Sodexo has committed to serving 100% Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested white fish at all of their university locations throughout the state of Maine by 2020. UMF and UMM are achieving this goal nearly a year early, and other colleges in the state are well on their way. In July, Sodexo staff announced that the 11 campuses they manage around the state have progressed from sourcing almost zero flaky white fish from the Gulf of Maine in 2015 to sourcing 82% Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested white fish, on track to achieve the 2020 goal.
Over the past two years, Sodexo at UMF and UMM have shifted from buying fish imported from other parts of the world to purchasing fish like Atlantic pollock and Acadian redfish from the Gulf of Maine region. Doug Winslow, Executive Chef at UMF, reports that they’ve also seen more success in serving seafood in general. “Two years ago, if you had told me we’d be going through 40 pounds of hake at lunch, I would never have believed you. But the impact has been real – we have changed, and we hope that our efforts have helped to change the larger marketplace, too.” By sourcing less well-known, or under-loved, species, UMF and UMM are helping to drive demand for a broader range of abundant, responsibly harvested species from the Gulf of Maine. This, in turn, gives fishermen more options and helps to build stronger economies in the region’s coastal communities. “Being in a coastal community here at UMM, it’s especially important to us that we serve fish from this region and do what we can to help fishing communities up and down our coast,” explained Gail Gordon, General Manager at UMM.
This month, GMRI Sustainable Seafood Program Manager, Kyle Foley, will officially recognize Sodexo at UMF and UMM for their achievements and commitments to serving 100% Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested® whitefish from the Gulf of Maine during a celebration event on each campus.
For more information, please visit: http://www.gmri.org/