A bill before the Legislature would allow milk to be donated instead of dumped down the drain.

Statistics show that 1 in 5 children and 14.4 percent of households in Maine are food insecure. Thirty-seven percent of those who are food insecure do not qualify for assistance.

A survey by Feeding America shows milk tops the list of items requested by food bank participants, at 85 percent.

As an Aroostook County native with a social work background, I have witnessed food insecurity. When I worked at the homeless shelter in Presque Isle, the only milk that was regularly donated was left-over small cartons from schools, which was prioritized for the children.

Milk donations are not allowed, as they violate minimum pricing laws. Maine is in a unique position to have flexibility over our dairy markets, as we are not part of the federal order. Our Maine Milk Commission regulates Maine prices.

Last June, the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee included a Milk Donation Program in the farm bill that allows producers and processors to work with organizations to get milk to those in need and reduce waste. In Maine, there is already an exemption for raw milk sold to consumers by producers on their premises.

Food waste is another problem our world faces. There are sources referring to milk being dumped down the drains. By allowing these donations to occur, Maine can be a leader in reducing food insecurity and food waste.

L.D. 292, “An Act to Feed Maine’s Residents by Allowing Dairy Dealers and Producers in the State to Donate Fresh Milk to Food Banks in the State,” has been brought forth by Rep. H. Sawin Millett, a dairy farmer, in coordination with Oakhurst Dairy and the Good Shepherd Food Bank, illustrating that there are avenues open to these changes. Allowing these donations would be another positive mark on Maine’s proven history of successfully regulating our milk market.

Melanie Maynard

master of social work student, University of Maine

Castle Hill

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