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Updated: September 15, 2022

Oakhurst Dairy gifts USM $250,000 for student center and to address food insecurity

Corey Hascall, USM Foundation Oakhurst Dairy provided a gift of $250,000 to the University of Southern Maine to address food security issues. From left: USM President Jacqueline Edmondson; Sarah Farrugia, USM campus food pantry coordinator; Brad Bowers, Oakhurst plant manager; Davielle Hawks, Oakhurt HR manager; Mark Page, Oakhurst general manager and USM 1985 alum; and Bri Demaso, USM Student Body President.

The University of Southern Maine Foundation announced a gift of $250,000 to help students succeed at USM by supporting food security as well as the construction of a new Career & Student Success Center on the Portland campus.

The gift includes $125,000 to support the new Career & Student Success Center, which is under construction and is slated to open in 2023. The three-story building will be 42,000 square-feet.

The remaining $125,000 will address an issue of rising concern on campuses across the country, the rapid increase in student food insecurity. 

“We are incredibly grateful that Oakhurst has given such an impactful gift,” said Sarah E. Holmes, USM’s assistant provost for student affairs. ”We know that hunger affects our students’ ability to focus and learn, and the need is exploding. This past year, we saw the number of food pantry visits grow by a stunning 331%. That included a 150% increase in the pounds of food distributed and a nearly 530% increase in the number of household and personal items distributed.”

Oakhurst Dairy is a longtime partner and neighbor of the Portland campus. 

“We are proud to partner with our neighbors, USM, to help students thrive, whether it is by supporting the campus food pantry program or important community-building projects such as the new Career & Student Success Center,” said Oakhurst General Manager Mark Page. 

The company will contribute dairy products to the food pantry on all three campuses. To honor the donor’s generosity, the university will name each facility the Oakhurst Campus Food Pantry and also recognize the Bennett family, founders of the century-old dairy, with a plaque at the Portland location.

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