Milk bill would help the hungry as well as farmers and economy
To the Editor:
One in five Maine children is food insecure and 11.1 percent of Maine people were living in poverty in 2017. These are figures our new Governor, Janet Mills, stated in her recent budget proposal. This is not new information, but it should be concerning for all Mainers. Our neighbors, families, elderly and children are struggling to meet the most basic of human needs. The people and government of our state must do more to ensure no one goes hungry.
The Good Shepherd Food Bank based out of Auburn has teamed up with Feeding America to combat food insecurity in our state. A recent survey done by Feeding America informs us that milk tops the list of food items most requested by food bank participants, at 85 percent. According to the National Institutes of Health, milk and dairy products contribute to meeting nutrient recommendations and milk consumption has been associated with reduced risk of childhood obesity.
Our 129th Legislature is also tackling this issue by presenting bills to reduce food insecurity. The bill I am advocating for is LD 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.
As an Aroostook County native with a background in social work, food insecurity is an issue that I have witnessed firsthand. Unfortunately, our vulnerable populations are the most at risk of being food insecure from our children to our elders. Many families rely on government assistance or donated foods to meet their needs. Much of the donated food available is non-perishable with less nutritional value than fresh foods, including milk.
It is my hope that this legislation will not only help our struggling families access a staple in the American diet, but that it may also help our dairy farmers and economy. This bill was introduced by Rep. Sawin Millett from Waterford, who is himself a longtime dairy farmer with extensive experience in government.