I am excited to be a guest blogger here and I appreciate the opportunity to share about my program with PRFC. I am the Food Science Innovation Coordinator and Facility Manager for the University of Maine and I was referred to PRFC by Hannah Carter from Cooperative Extension. She was very intrigued by PRFC and asked me to get connected and see how we could collaborate to help hungry Mainers.
I am a Chef by training and have spent my whole life feeding people. I have been fortunate to work in many different capacities throughout my career. I have worked in kitchens ranging from a Nuclear submarine to fine dining establishments in DC and Vermont. The one constant between all the kitchens was the respect for food and the important role it plays in people’s lives. I became disenchanted with the high-end restaurant scene as I began to realize that healthy local food was really only available to the most fortunate in our communities. I firmly believe that all people in our society should have access to healthy nourishing food. When the opportunity arose to work for the University of Maine, I jumped at the chance to join the effort of making local food available for more people.
Maine is an incredible state with such a diverse agricultural product. I am constantly amazed and inspired by the people working in food production throughout the state. We have some of the world’s best farmers, fisherman, and scientists working on making delicious food from the resources here in Maine. I get to be part of figuring out how to get that food on more people’s plates. Part of my work is figuring out new consumer packaged goods that are affordable and nutritious for people all over to consume. I also get to look at where existing processors could find value in their byproducts. It is a shame how much good food goes to waste. I love finding treasure in what others might consider trash.
I am also very passionate about combating food insecurity and lack of access. I am excited to be involved in offering Cooking Matters at UMaine in Orono. We will begin by offering the course to food insecure students and then we will expand the course to impact a larger audience. I think it is a beautiful thing to teach a person to cook and I am so grateful to the Cooking Matters curriculum for offering a medium through which I can pass on my skills to others.
I hope that as PRFC adds some food processing capacity we will be able to work collaboratively in that space to serve the community. I am very impressed by the staff at PRFC for their commitment to their community and the mission of feeding others. In my opinion there is no work more important and honorable than that.