By David Scammon, Staff Writer 

Local Pumpkin Polenta (Photo Courtesy of Gia Charles)

Local Pumpkin Polenta (Photo Courtesy of Gia Charles)

Recently, the Maurer Meals Project made its annual contribution to supporting local farmers by having participating restaurants incorporate locally grown foods into their menus. The program was founded in honor of Justin Maurer, a former graduate of UMF with a major in Community Health Education, who died shortly after graduating in 2005.

“It is a community event designed to raise awareness around sustainable and local foods,” said UMF Community Health Professor Denise Boothby

The Homestead Kitchen, Bar, and Bakery in downtown Farmington is one of the restaurants that participates in the Maurer Meals Project. The Homestead developed a tasty special weekend menu solely based on products produced by local farms in the area.

Like all other participating restaurants, a part of the proceeds from this menu are donated to the Justin A. Maurer Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship is given to a student with a major in Community Health Education, and has a minimum of 60 credits.

Kevin Higgins, Head Chef at The Homestead, has been a part of the project since it began. Though he thinks the project helps support students and local farms, Higgins would rather see most of the proceeds going elsewhere. “The proceeds should go back to the community to help create more publicity for farmers markets,” said Higgins.

UMF students were involved with The Maurer Meals Project in more ways than one. Specifically, Boothby had the students in one of her community health classes brainstorm their own ideas to help raise awareness of the project to students around campus and in the community.

A free raffle was held next to the Farmer’s Market by Narrow Gauge Cinemas, prompting students to appreciate locally grown foods at the market. Other students tabled in the Student Center and sold baked goods, with 100% of the proceeds going to the scholarship. Here, raffle tickets were also given away to encourage more people to visit the raffle in the downtown Farmer’s Market.

Summer McCollough, one of Boothby’s students who participated in the Maurer Meals Project, was proud of the work her and her fellow students have accomplished.

“Overall, I think it went really well. There was a good turnout from the students marketing at the student center,” McCollough said. “It’s being talked about, so it’s one of the best things we could’ve done.”

The Maurer Meals Project is an annual event, so if you missed it this year, there will always be another chance to support the program in the future.