Maine Course Sustainability Initiatives

The University of Maine Dining, 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 our initiatives that help reduce waste and energy consumption, support local vendors and regional sourcing and promote plant-based and Mindful lifestyle choices. Click the following links to learn more about Mindful and The Maine Course.


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 by creating inclusive market opportunities for local producers with intentional collaboration and transparency across multiple dimensions of diverse communities* in Maine to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion in our market opportunity.
*SWMBE, gender, sexual orientation & gender identity (LGBTQ+), generations, race/cultures/origins, disabilities

Maine Course Goals

The Maine Course is aligned with the goals and values of Sodexo’s Better Tomorrow 2025 plan and Sodexo’s Supplier Code of Conduct.

1.   Foster a strong Maine economy through the creation of inclusive market opportunities for local producers, aggregators and fisher-people 
2.   Promote a sustainable food system culture by ensuring that all foods are used for their highest and best purpose and not considered waste 
3.   Cultivate intentional collaboration and transparency across multiple dimensions of diverse communities** as foundational to our work to ensure racial equity and continue with a concerted         effort to remove structural barriers for market entry. **SWMBE, gender, sexual orientation & gender identity (LGBTQ+), generations, race/cultures/origins, disabilities
4.   Inspire Sodexo chefs and managers with the resources they need to expand their local impact

Maine Course Local Definition(s):

  • Maine-Made: Maine grown, harvested and produced products
    • In order to count as local, the item must tick two out of three boxes:
      • Maine grown
      • Maine owned
      • Maine produced/manufactured/processed

University of Maine System (UMS) Local Definition(s):

      • Ingredients produced within 175 miles (as the crow flies) from any of the 7 primary campuses
      • Processed foods with at least 51% local ingredients as defined above
      • Water will not be considered a local ingredient or a processed food
      • Non-indigenous foods prepared and processed in Maine by an in-state owned and operated company where the majority of the owners are Maine community members with full autonomy and decision-making authority with respect to business practices
      • Processed foods made from locally unavailable ingredients but prepared and processed in Maine by an in-state owned and operated company where the majority of the owners are Maine community members with full autonomy and decision-making authority with respect to business practices 

Maine Course Commitments & Partnerships

Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership

Sodexo is proud to sign on as a Northeast Organic Family Farm partner to support organic dairy farms in the Northeast and to help secure the future of organic dairy. We’re committed to purchasing organic dairy products from brands that source their milk from our region. To learn about our commitment and the partnership, please visit

Maine Grain Alliance

Maine Grain Alliance Logo

Through our Maine Course program, our partnership with the Maine Grains Alliance and Maine Grains, from Skowhegan, has grown significantly. UMaine 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!

GMRI Achievement


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. 


Green Container Program

Skip Disposable, Embrace Reusable

The Bear’s Den Green Container Program is ready to help you reduce your packaging waste while also rewarding you for returning to the Den to purchase your meals and snacks. For just a simple $5 investment you’ll get your first container to put your meal into and then bring it back at each trip and exchange for a new, sanitized container.
Help us reduce the packaging that ends up in the trash and maintain UMaine’s commitment to the environment using sustainable initiatives. When you’re done with the program, you can return your container and ask to opt out of the program to get your $5 back.
How it works:
  • Purchase a $5 container voucher from a Bear’s Den cashier
  • Present the voucher to a Bear’s Den venue for your first stickered container
  • Use the container to take your meal to go
  • At your next visit bring your old container and exchange for a sanitized, clean container
  • Repeat as often as you like!
  • Not interested in continuing in the program? Return the stickered container to the Bear’s Den for a $5 cash refund.
  • Limit one per customer, per visit.
Facts about the program:
  • To enroll in the program, purchase your initial voucher from a Bear’s Den cashier then redeem it at any venue in the Bear’s Den
  • We recommend redeeming your container immediately after purchasing your voucher
  • We can not be held liable for lost vouchers or lost containers
  • No refund will be issued for a lost container
  • Refunds are issued in cash
  • You may use cash, credit or debit card or Black Bear Bucks to purchase a voucher for the program
  • This program is only at the Bear’s Den at this time
Facts about the containers:
  • Green Container Program containers are microwave safe and BPA-free
  • When using at the Harvest (salad bar), ask for your replacement container at Eatily
  • The three compartments inside the containers allow you to keep your food segmented
  • Only containers that are marked with our sticker are eligible to be used as part of this program
  • We have weighed the containers so that when you check out they do not affect any items that need to be weighed (e.g. salad bar)

Black Bear Exchange

Your On-Campus Food Pantry and Clothing Exchange


The Black Bear Exchange envisions a community where all those who work at and attend the University of Maine have equitable access to resources; and where creative, situation-specific collaborations are actively nurtured to meet needs. This community will also value the reuse of goods and seek to eliminate the waste of resources. These actions will minimize dependence on supra-local, socially unaccountable systems and better provide for the well-being of all community members.

MAINECARD is required.  You cannot visit without your card.

The food pantry is open to students and their immediate families as well as staff and faculty. Each person may visit once per week and choose 15 items.  There is no income requirement and no application process.  Just present a valid MaineCard.  Our focus is supporting those who are not able to obtain assistance from other community sources.  Our food is obtained through the state food bank (Good Shepherd), donations, and food drives.  We try to have a wide variety of non-perishable foods, fresh produce and even some pre-cooked frozen items.  The selection will vary from day-to-day and week-to-week.

The Clothing Swap is open to anyone and everyone. All clothing, shoes and accessories are free!  No cost!!  Donations of gently used items are accepted during open hours. The goal with this sustainable project is to reduce stigma surrounding food pantries and thrift stores while providing support to the community.

For more information, visit: Black Bear Exchange

Green Campus Initiative

UMaine Green Campus Initiative serves to educate students and the community about sustainability related initiatives that pertain to campus housing, dining facilities, and the rest of Auxiliary Services. Through the support of Auxiliary Services, this program employs students and volunteers to carry out its educational mission. We want to teach others about good sustainable living practices at UMaine and around the community.
For more information, and to learn about their mission and activities, click: Green Campus Initiative

Campus Dining Sustainability Initiatives

The following initiatives are part of Sodexo's Better Tomorrow plan and are incorporated on campuses within Maine and the New England region. Each campus works with their client partners to work together towards achieving mutual sustainability goals. (*some programs may not be fully implemented on all campuses due to resource constraints, but are goals to strive towards).

  • Trayless Dining:

    • Customers without trays typically waste less food and beverages. Trayless dining also reduces the amount of water and detergents needed to wash each tray, which also saves energy.
  • Xprss Nap Dispensers

    • Not only are these napkins made of 100% recycled paper, the station dispensers encourage guests to take fewer napkins than if there were dispensers on each table.
  • Reusable China and Utensils

  • Reusable To-Go Containers

    • This innovative program is designed to reduce disposable packaging waste. By opting in and participating, guests can conveniently take their meal to-go, while taking steps to protect the environment. 
  • Green Certified Cleaning Supplies (Click HERE to find out more about EcoLab)

  • Bulk Condiments

  • On/Off Protocols for our Equipment

  • Food Recovery Programs

  • Responsible Sourcing:

  • Waste Watch / Lean Path Systems:

    • Our campus kitchens/culinarians use these systems to monitor and track food waste while preparing meals. By using Leanpath, we are able to easily identify causes of food waste in real-time and make necessary adjustments to our procedures to help combat food waste.
  • Recycling:

    • Recycling reduces waste sent to landfills and incinerators, prevents pollution, conserves natural resources, conserves energy, creates jobs and produces economic benefits.
  • Composting:

    • Food waste in landfills creates methane, a greenhouse gas which is 21 times more potent than CO2. ( Our first priority is to reduce food waste. When possible and with the help of campus partners, dining composts unavoidable food waste, reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It can also be used to amend soil thereby increasing drought tolerance, improving soil structure and health and reducing the need for water and fertilizers.