Maine Course Sustainability Initiatives

The University of Maine Dining, prioritizes sustainable practices as part of Sodexo’s 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. 

Maine Course Logo

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

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

Other Campus Sustainability Initiatives


We recycle to reduce and reuse material. On campus we recycle the following products: cardboard, glass, steel, aluminum, paper, and plastic.

Xpress Nap

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.