Summary of Recommendations

  • An organized information campaign, combined with tool kits for procurement staff and food service professionals, would address the knowledge gap and support increasing purchase of Maine-sourced food and ingredients by at least ten percent in the first year.
  • Food service managers, procurement managers, cooks, and chefs across all market segments who are enthusiastically and profitably integrating Maine-sourced food into their operations could benefit from organized peer-to-peer learning opportunities.
  • Organized preseason farmer/buyer meet ups would encourage confidence and relationships on both sides of the supply chain and result in more harvest being specifically planned and procured.
  • High schools and grade schools should form purchasing groups within their Districts and include Maine-based distributors, food hubs, farmer-aggregators, and farmers in some percentage of their RFPs food contracts.
  • Purchasing groups should collaborate to leverage their buying power for better pricing and for efficient storage and just-in-time delivery options.
  • Lack of housing for resident apprentices, journeypersons, seasonal farm labor, and H2B farm workers frustrates the AG sector in their search for dependable farm labor. In Milbridge, Mano en Mano undertook a project to build housing for farm and fisheries workers by partnering with the Town and Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This project could be replicated in towns within the greater Bangor area to ease the problems of both availability and affordability of housing for farm workers.
  • Wholesale buyers repeatedly report their need for frozen options when procuring vegetables and fruit. Increasing value-added capacity for quick-frozen product would keep more food dollars in the region.
  • Pursue every opportunity amongst Good Shepherd Food Bank and existing food hubs and food distributors for cooperation in delivery-only services and back-hauling of soils inputs, seed, and animal feed to support farmers’ ability to purchase in larger quantities for better pricing. Pursue cooperation in delivery of AG products from farms to contracted customers or storage.
  • Create or sponsor regional loan funds focusing on farmers and food producers who need assistance with down payment or matching funds for projects, such as USDA Natural Resources & Conservation Service (NRCS) projects, or farm business expansion.
  • Sponsor loan funds with existing farmer service organizations or offer lending through local and regional Economic Development offices as many such ED offices have done around Maine.