Oakhurst Dairy’s gift to USM addresses food security and student success

For Immediate Release: 9/14/22

Contact: Corey Hascall, USM Foundation, corey.hascall@maine.edu, 207-650-2343

PORTLAND, Maine — The University of Southern Maine Foundation (USM) has received a gift of $250,000 from Oakhurst Dairy that includes $125,000 to support construction of a new, sustainably built Career & Student Success Center on the Portland campus. The remaining $125,000 will address an issue of rising concern on campuses across the country, the rapid increase in student food insecurity. 

Oakhurst, a longtime USM partner and close neighbor to the Portland campus, will make an in-kind contribution of dairy products to food pantry locations that serve USM’s three campuses in Gorham, Portland, and Lewiston. 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.

Oakhurst lends its name to campus food pantries after supporting them with a donation.
USM and Oakhurst officials come together to celebrate the Portland food pantry’s new name.

Dr. Sarah E. Holmes ’96, ’02G, ’19G, USM’s Assistant Provost for Student Affairs, said, “We are incredibly grateful that Oakhurst has given such an impactful gift. 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 percent. 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’s donation of dairy products over the next five years will go a long in ensuring that our students can concentrate on their studies and not on their next meal.”

“Since Oakhurst’s founding in 1921, the company has been committed to the health and wellbeing of our communities, and to doing what’s right,” said Mark Page, Oakhurst General Manager, “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.”

In addition to the $125,000 in-kind contribution to USM’s campus food pantries, Oakhurst is also committing $125,000 to support the University’s sustainable new Career & Student Success Center, currently under construction on the Portland campus and slated to open in 2023. The three-story, approximately 42,000 square foot space is designed to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Silver certification and will overlook a one-acre expanse of green space — formerly a paved parking lot. 

The new building will serve as central campus crossroads, where students, faculty, alumni, and employers like Oakhurst can connect and collaborate. With dining facilities, meeting and conference rooms, student activity rooms, and an expanded Career & Employment Hub, the Center is among the most environmentally sustainable buildings on USM’s transforming Portland campus.

Outstanding sustainability features of the Career & Student Success Center include the use of low-carbon technologies and green building materials such as cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels, a 30kW rooftop solar photovoltaic array tied to the electric grid, and innovative energy-efficient building and site design. 

The building is adjacent to a new, 580-bed Portland Commons residence hall that will meet leading-edge Passive House sustainability standards and is on track to become the 2nd largest Passive House university building in the country. It will provide attractive, affordable housing for USM students and residential staff and will feature the newly named Dr. Glenn Cummings Courtyard, a half-acre, semi-private green space for studying and group gatherings.

For more information about the USM Career & Success Center, Campus Green, and Portland Commons residence hall, please visit: Portland Campus Development Project.


The USM Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with the University to support the aspirations of students and the strategic vision of USM. Now in its third decade of service, the Foundation is raising the critical funds needed to increase scholarship resources and achieve ambitious goals, as it helps to catalyze transformation at the University of Southern Maine.