By Josh Wynne, Staff Writer

 Paul Santamore, a senior poverty policy and development major at the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF), addressed the crowd in the dimly lit room, CR 123 of the Olsen Center during his symposium presentation titled, A Dining Dilemma: UMF’s Path Towards a Sustainable Diversified, and Healthy Food Service. Santamore, dressed in a blue and purple striped shirt, and blue jeans, spoke to the group of approximately twenty.

   “My symposium presentation is on assessing whether or not UMF Dining Services is matching up with the goals of the university, which are sustainable, diversity, and wellness,” said Santamore.

  Santamore’s loud voice began to echo through the room as he stated that currently the campus dining services provider, Aramark, states that 26% of their food is locally sourced, which injects $208,000 into the state’s economy. As Aramark’s contract expires next year, Santamore hopes that he can provide a reference with data to assess the dining situation moving forward.

   Through his capstone project research Santamore accessed the opinion of primarily students, also faculty, staff, community members and local farmers. The overwhelming finding of Santamore’s survey was that the majority of students are not satisfied with the quality of Aramark food. Although Santamore hopes to create a change and input more local food into UMF’s Dining Service, he recognizes the financial challenges.

   Santamore’s research was sparked by his involvement in the student sustainability coalition. Dr. Lucas Kellett, Santamore’s Capstone Advisor and the Sustainability Coordinator of UMF has also had Santamore in class. “Paul’s a pleasure to have in class, he’s very engaged, and very talkative.”

   “Capstone’s put a cap on your experience of undergraduate education…It’s not required but encouraged if going onto graduate school” said Santamore. Following a presentation at Wilson Symposium Day, it requires a twenty-five to thirty page paper.

   Prior to declaring as an individualized major, Paul enrolled at UMF as an elementary education major and then changed to a secondary education with a concentration in history.

   In the fall, Santamore will be attending USM working on a masters’ degree in public policy. “I hope to move onto some kind of political role, but I would like to be behind the scenes, doing policy analysis…In the end I would like to go back and get my PHD and teach at the college level,” said Santamore.

   As UMF aims to emphasize President Foster’s three established goals, Kellett believes Santamore’s project can be beneficial to the university’s mission. “Paul and his project exemplifies where UMF would like to be as an educational institution.”

   In the near future Santamore believes that, “leadership is going to take student and faculty opinion in account…I think they are going to see a consensus on local food and collaboration.”