DAMARISCOTTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The number of senior citizens experiencing food insecurity in Maine is rising at an alarming rate, doubling in less than five years.

That’s according to the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

An agency that helps seniors stay in their homes is working to raise awareness about the growing problem. Making sure they stay healthy by eating nutritious foods is part of the mission of Comfort Keepers. The agency works with seniors from Freeport to Camden helping them remain in their homes and live independently. Making sure they have enough food is a big part of that.

“One of our first things when we go in is looking in the cupboards and making sure what’s there isn’t outdated or spoiled”, said Comfort Keeper's Janice Somerville.

Somerville says food insecurity among seniors is not something that most of us see, but it is noticed by workers for her agency.

“Sometimes we get busy in our personal lives and don’t realize what’s in our neighborhood. I want to make sure everyone has what they need. It’s very important”, she said.

Comfort Keepers is on a mission to raise awareness of the issue and to help out by taking in about 300 pounds of canned goods and other food items in two weeks.

With the cost of living rising, especially medical costs, Somerville says no senior should have to make difficult choices.

“You never want them to choose between making good food choices, to medical expenses, to even oil. Those are some of the challenges when you’re working under a fixed income”, she said.

Jeff Pierce says his mother saw the problem first hand when she worked for Meals on Wheels.

“It’s the only people checking in on them to see if they’re alright, so there’s a big need for that in this community”, he said.

That’s why Pierce is helping out by offering the use of his store, Yellowfront Grocery in Damariscotta, as one of the drop off spots for donations.

“Anybody who’s in a situation where they don’t have enough food or needs help, that’s what we’re here for as a community grocery store”, he said.

The Feed Seniors Now food drive has been underway for several days. You still have until Monday to drop off goods at several locations.

Besides Yellowfront Grocery, you can also drop off goods at Mail it 4U in Newcastle, Community Pharmacy in Waldoboro and Michaud's Market in Topsham.