Lifelong Communities Food Security Guide

The community garden in Age-Friendly Sullivan includes a sharing table where people can leave excess produce for people who can put it to good use. 

The war against hunger is truly mankind’s war of liberation. 

John F. Kennedy

why it matters

Maine continues to be the oldest state in the US, with a larger percentage of 65+ adults compared to its overall population than any other state (PRB's 2022 World Population Data Sheet, 2022). Maine is also the most rural state in the nation; half of our land is completely or nearly uninhabited; two of every three Mainers age 65+ live outside an urban area (America's Health Rankings, 2023). Although there are many advantages to rural living, people with lower incomes or who no longer drive may face challenges getting healthy, fresh, affordable food in their own or a neighboring community. Overall, Maine has more food-insecure older residents than the U.S. average. In 2020 (the most recent data we have), about 38,000 experienced food insecurity and 54,000 faced the threat of hunger. While food security is just one component in the health services and community supports domain, it is a fundamental and basic human need.

Throughout Maine, Lifelong Communities are working together to improve overall health and increase the resources available to their residents. Through local partnerships, foundation funding, AARP grants, support from local farms, community centers, churches, libraries, and grassroots networks of volunteers, Maine's Lifelong Communities are building on the strengths in their community and taking action to address food security for all of their residents. The Lifelong Maine Food Security Checklist can help your team identify local resources and form an approach to food security that fits your community.

Six communities were interviewed to learn more about the work they are doing to promote food security. Read on for a summary of the approaches developed in South Portland, Berwick, Danforth, Georgetown, Limestone, South Portland, and Sullivan. After reading their work, click on the "Call to Action" links for ideas that you can use in your community.

Note: Below, and throughout our site, underlined text indicates a live link.

Examples from the Field

Six communities across the state were interviewed to see what they are doing to address food insecurity. Below, you will find a summary of the approaches developed in South Portland, Berwick, Danforth, Georgetown, Limestone, South Portland, and Sullivan. 

It is important to note that while the following information describes initiatives and programs that these communities have been involved, it may not include all of the programs currently in place.

Limestone: Many Paths to Engage the Community in Food Security

Hint from the field: 

The Age-Friendly leaders in Limestone get programs started, running smoothly, and then pass them off to local groups/organizations to continue the work.

Danforth: Breaking Bread with Others

Hint from the field: 

In small, rural Danforth, residents who need help were identified in two age-friendly assessments and through an ongoing relationship with the Food Pantry and Municipal Office. However, the most popular referral source remains word of mouth and neighbors looking out for each other.

Sullivan: Partner, Create, and Share

Hint from the field: 

The Age-Friendly leaders in Sullivan are proud to share that every project that they have ever started, continues, through community collaboration.

Georgetown: Building on Community Values

Hint from the field: 

Age-Friendly Georgetown rallies support from community members, local organizations, farms, and secures small grants to increase food security for all residents.

South Portland: Maine Senior Farm Share Program +

Hint from the field: 

Age-Friendly South Portland leaders utilize current state-funded programs, grants, and, partnerships with local farms to provide locally grown, fresh produce to older residents who qualify for the Senior Farm Share Program--a win for farmers and for the people who benefit.

Berwick: Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Hint from the field: 

Neighbors helping neighbors -that's what it is all about!.

Call to Action: Address food insecurity in your community!

Quick action projects show that you are committed to making change and excite the community with what is possible. 

Start by learning about the resources in your community and the region that you can deploy and then build a strong collaboration.

What you can do with a small amount of money from a funder who wants to support your approach to food security

For a bit of Inspiration....

In April 2023, 47 age-friendly, lifelong communities in Maine responded to a UMaine survey about their approach to food security.  This shows a summary of what we learned. In addition, we heard that 12 communities are also promoting oral health as part of their approach to food security.  

We are deeply grateful to Erica Robertson, an MSW student at the University of Maine, for her help developing the Lifelong Maine Food Security Guide.