The Great American Milk Drive, intended to provide more fresh milk to food pantries, has arrived in Maine, Oakhurst Dairy and the Good Shepherd Food-Bank announced Tuesday.

The vast majority of Maine’s food pantries struggle to get enough milk for clients, especially during summer months, when children are out of school and not getting meals there, say hunger-relief advocates. About 200,000 people in Maine are food insecure, lacking enough food to sustain a healthy lifestyle, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including one in four children.

The Great American Milk Drive is the first national program to get milk to families that use food pantries. Launched in May, the yearlong effort is led by dairy farmers and milk companies across the country.

A survey by Feeding America, a national hunger-relief charity, showed that 95 percent of food banks don’t receive enough milk to meet demand, mainly because of inadequate donations. Food pantry clients receive the equivalent of less than one gallon of milk per person per year, according to Feeding America.

Maine ranks 18th nationally and first in New England for food insecurity. About 36 percent of Mainers who are considered food insecure do not qualify for food stamps and rely on food pantries.

The Great American Milk Drive will collect monetary donations through its website and via text message, then provide vouchers for food pantries. Those vouchers will allow families to buy $4.50 worth of white milk at a time.

On Tuesday, Oakhurst kicked off the program in Maine with a donation of 140 half-gallons of milk, which Good Shepherd will distribute to its network of food pantries and food programs across the state. During June, Oakhurst will donate three half-gallons of milk for every run scored by the Portland Sea Dogs.

Donations can be made at or by sending the text message “milk” to 27722. Donations will go to food pantries based in the donors’ ZIP codes.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @grahamgillian