PORTLAND, MAINE — June 3, 2014 — According to a recent survey, milk is one of the items most requested and most needed by food banks, yet donations most often come in the form of non-perishable items. To shed light on the tremendous need Maine’s food pantries have for milk donations and to educate the local community about how they can help, Oakhurst is helping to launch the Great American Milk Drive in Maine. It is a year-long effort and first national program designed to deliver milk to hungry families across America. To kickoff the Maine campaign, Oakhurst plans to donate 3 half gallons of milk to Good Shepherd Food Bank for every run the Portland Sea Dogs score from June 1 to June 21 up to 250 half gallons. Oakhurst made the announcement at the Good Shepherd Food Bank Distribution Center in Biddeford on June 3, 2014.
The survey, conducted by Feeding America®, showed that 95 percent of food banks do not receive enough milk to meet demand and the number one reason is inadequate milk donations. “For many of us, milk is a common staple in our refrigerators,” said Bill Bennett, Senior Advisor to Oakhurst. “However, we’ve recently learned that milk is hardly ever donated to food banks – most donations are non-perishable items and canned goods — and here in Maine many families don’t have access to nutrient-rich milk on a regular basis.”
Oakhurst is working to raise awareness for this need and encourage local community members to join in supporting the Great American Milk Drive so that more Maine families have access to milk. Additionally, the Maine Dairy Promotion Board is working with all of Maine’s processors and the local food industry to create a series of events throughout the year to keep the milk drive top of mind.
Launched in May, the Great American Milk Drive is the first national program designed to help resolve the milk shortage in food pantries; it is made possible by dairy farmers and milk companies across America. To make a donation to the Great American Milk Drive, visit www.milklife.com/give. Donations will go to local food banks based on the donor’s zip code and be distributed in the form of milk coupons to those organizations. In Maine, the designated food bank is Good Shepherd Food Bank because of its statewide reach. To ensure the donation is directed to Maine families via Good Shepherd Food Bank, be sure to enter a valid Maine zip code. All the milk donated by Mainers will stay in Maine to help local families. Donations can also be made by text message. Simply text “Milk” to 27722.
According to Feeding America, food bank clients receive the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person per year. In Maine, Good Shepherd Food Bank reports that although milk is an important part of a nutritious diet, the organization never has enough milk to meet the need across Maine. As the Food Bank works to provide healthier, perishable foods to its network of food pantries, it is hoping to increase the amount of milk it distributes.
“In a rural farming state like Maine, access to milk seems like it should be easy, but too many Maine citizens, especially children, go without milk every day. We hope this initiative can change that,” said Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank.
In Maine, the USDA estimates that 14.9 percent of households, or approximately 200,000 individuals, are food insecure. Maine ranks 18th in the nation and 1st in New England in terms of food insecurity. And 36% percent of Maine’s food insecure population do not qualify for food stamps and rely on the food assistance network that Good Shepherd Food Bank helps support in the state.
“We are heading into summer – one of the most beautiful times of the year in our state. It’s also a time when local food banks need our help the most,” said Bennett. “Fewer donations are made to food banks during the summer but the need is even greater with children out of school and unable to access school meal programs for several months. We hope many in our community will join us in donating milk to the Great American Milk Drive – your dollars will be directed to our state and Maine families.”
Good Shepherd Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, and solicits millions of pounds of food each year from Maine’s food industry and distributes it to people in need while building strong community partnerships and mobilizing the public in the fight to end hunger. Good Shepherd Food Bank provides food to more than 600 food pantries, meal sites, shelters, schools and senior centers. Good Shepherd Food Bank was founded in 1981. To donate or volunteer visit: www.gsfb.org.
About Oakhurst Dairy
As New England’s leading dairy brand, Oakhurst has stood behind every glass of milk and product for more than 90 years. While the FDA states there is no significant difference between milk from cows treated with artificial growth hormone, Oakhurst asked all its milk producers to take America’s First Farmer’s pledge not to use artificial growth hormone. Today, Oakhurst remains committed to the health and well being of the community in which it operates by contributing to local organizations that support healthy kids and a healthy environment. In January 2014, Oakhurst became a wholly owned subsidiary of Dairy Farmers of America, a dairy cooperative based in Kansas City, Kansas. The company processes and packages milk and other dairy products on Forest Avenue in Portland Maine. For more information, visit www.oakhurstdairy.com.