It may have lost its bid to get the food service contract for six University of Maine campuses, but the Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative isn’t folding up shop. This week it released an extensive “toolkit” to help institutions and businesses in the Greater Portland area that want to emphasize local foods achieve just that.

The 44-page report (plus an appendix) makes lemonade out of lemons in a sense; much of the research in it was done in service of filling the food needs on the University of Southern Maine campus in Portland. As the report points out, Portland Public Schools have already been able to purchase over 35 percent of the foods served at the city’s schools locally, so there is potential for others to do the same. The cooperative’s goal is that all Portland area businesses and institutions set a 20 percent local goal to be met by 2020.

The report outlines a nine-step program to get there, starting with determining how much local food an institution is already buying to set a baseline. The recommendation is a bit like a weight-loss program, setting a goal and then figuring out how to work toward it. The next step is to enlist experts (like those with the Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative) to establish a timeline and framework for getting there.

The definition for local in the report is foods gathered, harvested or grown within 275 miles. Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative said it set that goal – some define local as found within 100 miles – to make sure that Aroostook County producers can be part of the menu.

The toolkit outlines the specifics of adding 20 local foods – earlier identified by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association – that can be obtained in Maine year-round, including root vegetables, maple syrup and meats. It covers areas like food safety and working in tandem with U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Unveiled at a press conference Thursday, the report, which will be downloadable at, was funded by the Portland Development Corporation through the Portland Economic Development Plan Implementation Program and the John Merck Fund.