A partially eaten broccoli pizza that was served on Tuesday, Jan. 31, to UMF students in celebration of the first batch of frozen, locally grown produce. According to the pizza chef, she had already gone through four whole pies. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

FARMINGTON — On Tuesday, Jan. 31, broccoli-centric meals swept the University of Maine Farmington’s South Dining Hall as Sodexo celebrated the fruition of their initiative to bring locally grown broccoli into the dining halls of the University of Maine System.

“Today was a culmination of many years of conversations and collaboration,” Maeve McInnis, the Maine Course director at Sodexo, stated. “And finally seeing this project come to fruition, where we are able to bring frozen Maine grown broccoli into all of our dining halls in the state of Maine.”

The service lasted from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with T-shirts and brochures available to students who first enter the dining hall.

Broccoli was incorporated into a variety of different dishes such as broccoli and cheddar soup and broccoli pizza. Schools with the Broccoli Takeover were the University of Maine Orono, University of Maine at Augusta, Farmington, Fort Kent, Machias, and Presque Isle, University of Southern Maine – Gorham, Southern Maine Community College, Maine Maritime Academy, Maine College of Art & Design and Thomas College.

“We knew having access to frozen, Maine grown produce would allow us to offer a local vegetable during the winter months when fresh, local ingredients from Maine are dwindling,” McInnis said in a press release.

“Broccoli is the number one vegetable that students eat on our campuses here in Maine, so this partnership with Good Shepard Food Bank is a natural fit and we’re confident it will be a success for years to come,” she added.


Cafeteria worker Mary Fitch cuts red peppers for the salad bar on Tuesday, Jan. 31. Mary normally works with international food, but for the day was cutting vegetables for today and tomorrow. Brian Ponce/Franklin Journal

The initiative took root back in 2019, when McInnis connected with Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank. The two collaborated in writing a proposal for funding through the Kendall Food Vision Prize, winning $250,000 in seed money in 2019.

In November of 2022, Sodexo, Good Shepherd Food Bank, Native Maine, WR Allen, and Jasper Wyman & Son were awarded $200,000 by The Kendall Foundation to support this project, according to their press release.

According to Matt Chin, President of the Harvesting Good, most of the broccoli consumed in the Northeast is grown in Aroostook County. For the program, Circle B Farms in Caribou will grow, harvest, cool and transport the broccoli crowns to the processor, WR Allen in Orland, which will then cut and freeze the product.

“It all finally came together, so we’re celebrating that with a broccoli day,” Tamara Hartley, General Manager for the UMF Dining Hall, stated. “We always have broccoli, but now it’s our local broccoli and that makes us really happy. Everybody got their first order in and that’s what we’re using for today is our first order of broccoli.”

Student response has also been positive, with Morgan Noonan, pizza chef for the South Dining Hall, stating that halfway through the service, she had already gone through four broccoli pizzas.

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