Plan Overview

Increase the effectiveness of marketing investments by encouraging cross-sector collaboration.Convene public sector organizations and industry groups that promote Maine food in general to develop and use consistent marketing messages in materials, websites, and events.
Encourage organizations that promote Maine food or Maine food businesses to expand the cross-promotion of resources and events. For example, Chambers of Commerce might help promote events out of their geographic coverage area if some of their members are participating.
Encourage opportunities for public sector organizations that promote Maine food businesses to share databases in ways that allow information entered once by a business to populate multiple websites.
Provide targeted resources and technical assistance to increase awareness of state, regional and national trade show events and assist businesses to prepare materials and displays for these types of venues.
Increase business awareness of the advantages of cooperatives that allow smaller businesses to aggregate their marketing dollars and increase the impact of their marketing efforts.
Good/Local Food Economies; Local brand promotion; Small Business Support; Good Food Governance; Public Private Partnerships; Food System Coordination; Farm & Producer Business Support;
Increase sales of products produced using best management practices and risk management strategies that improve the resiliency of land and water resources, improve food quality and adhere to food and workplace safety standards.Promote increased food producer awareness of processes for improving product quality such as those associated with producing higher quality grades of meat and improving soil fertility.
Promote greater business and consumer understanding of existing quality and sustainable production certifications.
Develop Group GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) Certification programs in Maine.
Increase the availability of training and resources to assist farmers in complying with requirements in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Increase consumer awareness of best management practices related to health and safety for the aquaculture industry.
Expand programs working to develop systems that enable the traceability of seafood in Maine from boat to market.
Expand and promote outreach and education programs that increase public awareness of the relationship between food production, environmental and public health and ecological diversity.
Good/Local Food Economies; Local brand promotion; Small Business Support; Land & Resource Use; Climate Mitigation; Training & Education, Agriculture; Agriculture & Food Production; Farm & Producer Business Support; Culture Shift (Good Food Movement); Public Messaging & Marketing; Food Safety;
Expand opportunities for farmers and fishermen to connect with markets.Promote information, resources and technical assistance that support the ability of growers and fishermen to respond to the requirements of different markets.
Expand technical assistance available to businesses interested in scaling up production for larger markets.
Agriculture & Food Production; Good/Local Food Economies; Producer market access; Farm & Producer Business Support; Training & Education, Agriculture;
Increase numbers of employees and businesses using workforce development resources.Assess gaps in current training programs and resources based on business input and successful efforts from other states.
Promote and expand workforce and business development programs, especially for low- and mid-level management workers in businesses across the food chain.
Create or expand tax and other financial incentives for businesses to use workforce development programs.
Increase business awareness of best practices for workforce retention, operations and growth management.
Promote and expand training programs to assist fishermen in diversifying the types of seafood they harvest or raise.
Workforce Development; Training & Education, General; Labor/Food Workers; Good/Local Food Economies; Small Business Support; Farm & Producer Business Support;
Improve business access to data on market demand and pricingAssess areas where Maine has a strategic production advantage, both regionally and nationally and share information with producers.
Create, support and maintain a central information hub to provide links to business and market data across the food supply chain.
Increase business awareness of existing tools and services that focus on market data and provide information and assistance to Maine producers in making this data relevant to decision making.
Prioritize and support efforts and investments that will create a reliable telecommunications infrastructure for internet and data plans that enable producers across Maine to have real-time access to records, and receive timely data.
Good/Local Food Economies; Small Business Support; Good Food Governance; Food System Coordination; Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning;
Increase awareness of successful business models.Promote resources that assist businesses in understanding effective business models and factors that influence success.
Research and promote information on business models for low volume/high quality fish and direct to consumer sales for fish.
Increase business awareness of technologies and equipment that improve production and cost efficiencies for different scaled operations.
Encourage open houses and information-sharing at successful food businesses and cooperatives in Maine and out of state.
Good/Local Food Economies; Small Business Support; Farm & Producer Business Support; Agriculture & Food Production;
Improve business access to financing and incentives that support development and expansion.Explore tax incentives and credits as a tool to encourage investment in food systems infrastructure development and improvements that benefit Maine businesses.
Create Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts for food processing plants that meet employment targets.
Promote and expand resources for patient capital such as those provided through investor networks, program related investments, and community development financial institutions.
Develop sustainable funding sources that support ongoing capitalization of the Working Waterfront Access Protection Program.
Good/Local Food Economies; Small Business Support; Good Food Governance; Funding & Investment Strategies;
Increase numbers of employees and businesses using workforce development resources.Increase awareness of individual and family development accounts, health savings accounts and similar financial tools.
Increase the availability of affordable professional and legal services for small businesses with information on options for retirement savings that also have tax benefits.
Include personal financial training as part of programs for sustainable agriculture, farm and fishing businesses, and journeyperson programs.
Labor/Food Workers; Food Worker Wages; Workforce Development; Training & Education, General; Small Business Support; Farm & Producer Business Support;
Increase public awareness of food systems issues and opportunities.Encourage participation in community food councils and citizen initiatives organized to support local food and food access.
Encourage ongoing evaluation, volunteer management and recruitment to ensure long-term sustainability of community groups.
Publicize success stories and lessons learned from community organizing efforts.
Culture Shift (Good Food Movement); Community Outreach; Public Messaging & Marketing; Good Food Governance;
Build community and consumer awareness of positive community, economic and environmental impacts created by food producers, farmers, and fishermen.Increase the number of, and participation in, programs that provide hands-on community education about local food production such as school and community gardens, harvest lunches and community suppers using local foods.
Increase community awareness of existing Pre K-12 educational resources on Maine agriculture, aquaculture, and fisheries.
Increase producer and community participation in the network of educational programs seeking knowledgeable and experienced speakers and volunteers from farming, aquaculture and fishing businesses.
Support programs that provide consumer education on food safety, oversight for food safety, and potential risks associated with the manner in which food is processed before sale.
Promote and expand youth programming on careers, entrepreneurship, leadership, and employment in food sector jobs.
Strengthen and expand programs that promote local food production as a community, ecological, and economic asset including those offered through the downtown and tourism promotion councils, public health organizations, conservation groups, and emergency food service providers.
Culture Shift (Good Food Movement);
Community Outreach;
Public Messaging & Marketing;
School Curricula; Training & Education, General;
Expand consumer education on nutritional food choices and options for accessing healthy foods.Expand the availability and reach of programs aimed at educating consumers about the preparation, use, and storage of fresh food.
Assess opportunities for using or building shared facilities for teaching the preparation, processing and storage of fresh food.
Expand nutritional education programs that provide information on the full range of healthy food choices, including fresh, fresh frozen, and canned foods.
Provide better information on options for accessing healthier foods including but not limited to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and special programs available at individual food pantries.
Expand nutrition education programs in the public school system such as home economics.
Encourage and support the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Harvest for Hunger Program.
Nutrition & Health; Food & Nutrition Literacy; Culture Shift (Good Food Movement); Food Security; Food Access (consumer); Food & Income Assistance (SNAP, WIC, etc.);
Develop statewide policies, partnerships and incentives that support increased access to healthy foods for all Mainers.Increase awareness among health insurance providers, institutions and the business community of successful incentive and other program models that encourage healthier diet choices among clients and employees.
Provide technical and financial assistance to enable more farmers markets and farmers to process Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) purchases.
Create financial incentives for landlords who provide garden space to tenants.
Publicize and expand successful gleaning programs at Maine farms.
Identify and promote activities and programs that improve access to healthy food for isolated communities whose access is restricted by transportation and/or distribution costs.
Work with New Mainers, food retail establishments, and farm/garden supply businesses to increase business awareness of consumer demand for food products and seeds used by immigrant communities living in Maine.
Food Security; Nutrition & Health; Food Access (consumer); Food Availability (retailers); Good/Local Food Economies; Good Food Governance;
Policymakers and the general public have a better understanding of the conditions that contribute to food insecurity and the unique nutritional needs of different populations.Promote credible economic data and research on the potential impacts of a minimum wage increase and encourage continued dialogue around whether an increase could be effective for addressing food insecurity in Maine.
Convene partners to develop a strategy for improving public awareness of conditions associated with poverty and food insecurity for different populations and communities in Maine.
Increase public awareness of the emergency food system in Maine, how it operates, numbers of volunteers and clients involved statewide with the goal of highlighting the breadth of support provided by communities to address food access needs.
Research and promote information on Maine’s growing senior population and programs that can help address increasing food security needs.
Good Food Governance; Culture Shift (Good Food Movement); Public Messaging & Marketing; Food Security; Emergency Response; Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning;

Plan Information

CategoryDatabase entry
Plan RegionMaine
Publication Date2016
Entry reviewed by original authorYes
PDF attachmentView Full Report
Plan TitleThe Maine Food Strategy Framework
WebpageThe Maine Food Strategy Website
Author(s)The Maine Food Strategy (A network effort of funders and nonprofits, government agencies, and small businesses; see p. 34 for a list of all involved individuals).
Author Type Network
Region Type State
Funding Sources Foundations; State University
FundersOriginally University of Southern Maine; switched to Third Sector New England (resource center) halfway through planning process. TSNE acts as a hub for directing resources.  
Total Project BudgetUnspecified
Plan GoalsThis plan was created to support an intentional coordinated approach to systems change in Maine’s food system. Four values are established (p. 9): economic development, a healthy Maine environment, vibrant communities, and healthy food for all.
Intended AudienceAll food systems actors, including policymakers, funders, and those carrying out programs and initiatives within the food system. 
Plan Recommendation StructureFive specific goals, each with sub-strategies (framed as “how do we get there?”). Each sub-strategy offers a set of specific policy, program, or funding tactics. Each tactic is “tagged” with an icon representing one of the four Value Statements of the plan (p. 9).
Catalyst for PlanA group of Maine / NE funders convened stakeholders to think about how organizations working on food system issues could increase information sharing and collaboration. Discussions led to the establishment of an ad hoc committee charged with developing an RFP to contract an organization(s) to develop a “plan.”
Creation ProcessFormation and initiative planning (taken from p. 22-23 of the plan):
2011:- Ad hoc committee forms to discuss improving coordination between groups working on food systems issues.
2012:- Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine (USM) contracted to develop and implement a planning process. USM team recruits stakeholders for a “Design Team” to define a process and create a Steering Committee.
2013:- Design Team uses an open nomination process to select and appoint an 18-person steering committee. The steering committee helps define the scope and process to develop a statewide “plan” and  guides four network-building initiatives: 1) a research study (survey) on household food purchasing conducted by USM; 2) a Food Summit, hosted by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension; 3) a report reviewing all food-related legislation introduced in that year’s legislature; and 4) Research on food plans at the state, national and regional levels and synthesis of recommendations from these.
2014:- Consumer Report (attached) published for widespread distribution- MFS Steering Committee outlines priorities based on research from past plans and recent reports- MFS conducts preliminary stakeholder interviews and publishes a report on fisheries (attached).
2015:- MFS hires contractors to help lead focus groups with stakeholders with financial or language barriers to participation.- Subcommittees formed around each identified priority area- 7 new SC members added via open nomination- Organizes a statewide Network gathering event
2016:- MFS publishes initial Framework Report- SC develops clear expectations and responsibilities for participating individuals- Subcommittee meetings held over 4 months
Plan creation and stakeholder engagement (taken from p. 32-34 of the plan):
1. MFS reviewed 200+ reports from other states, countries, and Maine itself. Conducted expert interviews with key organizations, government agencies, and businesses within Maine. Drafter initial report (attached) on these findings.2. MFS SC hired consultants to set priorities and indicators (using “You Get What You Measure” framework)3. Feedback on identified indicators and priorities was provided via a) 20+ expert interviews, b) a targeted survey (150+ responses), and c) formal presentations to staff at over 25 local organizations, businesses, and gov’t agencies.4. Focus groups were held to target “harder to reach” populations, offering financial, logistical, and linguistic support.5. Project staff synthesized all of the collected information and input into a large document. Four new sub-committees within the SC were created (one for each goal) to refine and finalize the strategy.
From Tanya Swain, Project Director:”One process piece that seriously slowed our initial launch was the hand-off from the ad hoc group that developed the RFP.  Once the University was hired to do the planning process, the ad hoc committee dissolved and the project staff was charged with building a Steering Committee from scratch.  I believe the planning process would have been shorter and run more smoothly if some ad hoc committee members had transitioned into a steering committee or an advisory group for the initiative. There are a number of reasons why this wasn’t the case; happy to share more if this is of interest.  In short, however, our experience would suggest that some champions of the planning process stay involved in at least an advisory role once a project is funded. If a statewide planning process is not government-affiliated or supported, you need advocates from the NGO / grassroots organizing communities to build the case for why a plan is needed and legitimacy for the process that inspires people to be engaged.”
Theoretical Framework(s) Employed  Collective Impact Framework
Theoretical Framework(s): Additional LiteratureCollective Impact (Kania and Kramer, 2011):
Whole Measure for Community Food Systems (Center for Whole Communities, 2009) (See supplemental documents)
Development Timeline5+ years 
Implementation StrategyLaid out briefly in the plan as:”Action: Partners convene to work on specific activities, policies and programs that advance the goals identified in the Framework.Assessment: Work within this emergent food systems network to find agreement on measurements that will help us know when progress is made.Evaluation: Develop channels for deeper communication across and within the network.” (p. 19)
From Tanya Swain, Project Director:”At this point in time [2022], we see ourselves as holding a space for cross sector food systems work. We are serving as a convenor and incubator of sorts.  We create opportunities and spaces to bring people to work on systems issues that benefit from a statewide approach and cross sector perspectives and resources. Funding permitting, we would like to do an assessment of food system shifts in the Framework priority areas from 2016 – present.”
Implementation TimelineUnspecified
Evaluation StrategyUnspecified, though assessment and articulation are highlighted as a key next step (see “Implementation Strategy”).
Data-based measures for each goal are provided as an appendix (p. 28-31).
As noted by the plan author, because the plan was driven largely by stakeholders in the nonprofit/academic sectors and not the state government, those involved in the process found it difficult to set specific measurable goals because of the initiative’s inability to direct resources or investments. The Framework was seen as more of an agenda-informing document than a plan.
International Development Framework(s)None
Current Plan StatusActive
Government Adoption StatusNot Adopted
Government Adoption Status (Notes)Framework was developed through a grassroots participatory process initiated by the nonprofit and funder communities.
Supplemental Documents View Supplemental Documents