A national effort continues to get more donations of a staple that can get overlooked when people give to food pantries. Iowa is not exception and the “Great American Milk Drive” will collect dairy donations at the Des Moines Farmers Market today. But market-goers don’t have to worry about carrying a jug of milk around downtown — they can donate online or by sending a text message.

The Iowa Food Bank’s Christina Zink says people sometimes don’t consider of the importance milk. “I think milk is important. One, its high in nutrient value, it’s a common product in most households. But on average, someone who goes to a food pantry only gets about a gallon a year,” according to Zink.

She says that doesn’t fill the needs of most people. “And if you think it’s a family and they’ve got young kids, you know milk is really needed. They’ve always told you when you’re a younger strong bones, grow strong, you need milk,” Zink says.

While milk is a product vital to family in need, Zink says it’s rarely donated. And they often have a short supply of coupons to give out to the needy to turn in for milk. “We’ve probably got two coupons in the last month,” Zink says.”So if you think about when you go to a mobile food pantry that could feed anywhere from 50 to 200 households and we have two coupons, it’s kind of hard to bring those and say only two people get it.”

The Iowa Food Bank distributes products to 390 agencies across 55 counties. Each donation made through the national program will stay in Iowa providing dairy products to nearby shelters. You can contact the foodbank in your area to find out how to donate milk. Find out more about the Great American Milk Drive at: milklife.com.