BREWER — Brewer-area businesses are being called to help with the increasing need for food in the greater Bangor area by participating in the “Food Fighter Challenge.”

Participating businesses agree to keep a collection box where customers, clients or people frequenting the business may drop off nonperishable food items in support of the Brewer Area Food Pantry. Each business competes to collect the most food and win a monthly “traveling” trophy awarded to the business that collects the most pounds of food each month. At the beginning of each month, the challenge restarts, giving another business the opportunity to claim the trophy.

Food insecurity is a crisis in Maine, impacting 11.4 percent of households in the state, or more than 153,000 people. OHI and the Brewer Area Food Pantry have been working hard at meeting the community’s need for food assistance for nearly a decade. In recent months, the cost of food has increased and there has been greater demand in the Brewer area for the food pantry services.

“Food insecurity in our community is affecting many of our neighbors with the rising cost of living,” said Ashlee Black, with the Simpson Team-Realty of Maine. “This is putting an incredible strain on our local food pantries. As businesses operating in Brewer, we must band together to meet the growing need.”

Not only will participating businesses be vying for the traveling trophy and bragging rights, through their efforts, they truly are making a difference for their neighbors who are food insecure right in their own community, according to Deb Smith, OHI director of intellectual and developmental disability services and managing director of the Brewer Area Food Pantry.

Interested businesses will have a collection box dropped off to them and can keep the box for as many months as they would desire. Once a box is nearing capacity, the business calls the food pantry and a volunteer will collect the food from them. If a business would like to take part or to learn more about the services offered by the Brewer Area Food Pantry, call 207-989-3200 or send a message to the pantry’s Facebook page.

Located at 222 North Main Street in Brewer, the pantry is open every Monday and Wednesday. The pantry primarily serves neighbors of the Brewer and Eddington area but is open to anyone in need who meets the U.S. Department of Agriculture Emergency Food Assistance Program income guidelines. About 64 percent of people supported by the food pantry are seniors and children.