We’ve always believed that partnerships facilitate progress. Today, we are excited to announce an exciting new partnership with Sodexo Group to bring fresh, nutritious produce to college campuses across Maine! Sodexo, a global food service provider and one of Maine’s largest employers, will source as much as 80-percent of its lettuce products from Vertical Harvest.
Sodexo serves 13,000 meals daily at colleges and hospitals across Maine, including Central Maine Medical Center and Southern Maine Community College. All fourteen Sodexo partners, including collegiate campuses from Fort Kent to South Portland, will serve Vertical Harvest produce.
“We are a global company that is committed to spending locally,” says Varun Avasthi, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Sodexo. “One challenge we face when sourcing local food is Maine’s short outdoor growing season. The partnership with Vertical Harvest will be a game-changer for Sodexo’s ability to buy fresh produce twelve months per year,” Avasthi added.
Vertical Harvest breaks ground on our 70,000 square foot, four-story farm in downtown Westbrook later this summer. The master plan integrates residential apartments, commercial space and four-stories of parking. We’ll grow over 1-million pounds per year of local produce, create 50 jobs, and hire Mainers with physical and intellectual disabilities, says our CEO Nona Yehia.
“Our Maine Farm’s output will displace out-of-state produce and will not compete with local, traditional farms,” she says. “We are extremely proud to grow local food, and to create meaningful jobs for Maine’s underemployed.”
In 2015, Sodexo founded The Maine Course, a local organization with a mission to increase the company’s local food spend annually. Sodexo and Vertical Harvest will prepare for the first harvest, which is planned for the Fall 2022 academic year.
“This partnership illustrates how strategically the Maine business community works together,” says Glenn Cummings, President, University of Southern Maine. “The partnership between Sodexo and Vertical Harvest enforces our commitment to serving Maine-grown food whenever possible – it is a win-win,” Cummings said.
Read the full announcement here.