Nutrition Center

We believe deeply in the inherent worthiness of each person and work to create caring, safe environments where people can thrive.

The St. Mary’s Nutrition Center (NC) places value in strengthening community connections, addressing root causes, nurturing a sense of place, and facilitating a deeper commitment to equity across our community. The NC was founded by St. Mary’s Health System in Lewiston, Maine in 2006 to promote community health through organizing, advocacy and education. Although the NC was formed in 2006, it houses the Lots to Gardens program, which has provided gardening and food access programming in Lewiston since 1999.

We are pleased to share the Nutrition Center will be transitioning to become its own independent nonprofit organization!

For the last 25 years, the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center has played a key role in bringing equitable food access to the Lewiston-Auburn community. Through a range of community and direct support programs, the Nutrition Center significantly impacts the lives of families, youth, and adults facing food insecurity and other challenges.

Nutrition Center staff provide fresh and healthy food for nearly 350 households each week through the Food Pantry. The Nutrition Center’s core work, including impactful youth programs, the robust network of Community Gardens, long-standing partnerships with local schools, as well as crucial food access programs, make it a critical partner to our community.

St. Mary’s and the Nutrition Center are continuously looking for ways to ensure services are delivered effectively and efficiently, and that we’re best positioned to meet the needs of the community long into the future. The Nutrition Center’s growth and organizational health in recent years have resulted in a readiness and excitement to operate independently.

As an independent entity, the Nutrition Center will be able to better sustain and grow services, attract more diverse funding sources, and be more nimble and responsive to evolving community needs.

St. Mary’s and the Nutrition Center have had a strong, positive, ongoing relationship for over 20 years, and St. Mary’s will continue to serve as a major partner to the Nutrition Center.

Importantly, there will be no disruption in the delivery of our services and programs and the Nutrition Center will remain at 208 Bates Street for the foreseeable future. Donations made to the Nutrition Center will continue to be for the benefit of the Nutrition Center and those it serves.

At the heart of this transition is a desire to do more and continue to live our Mission to provide healing and care for the whole person, in service to all in our communities. Our collaborative efforts and shared goals have led us to this positive change – and we know that we will continue to grow in our capacity to collaborate and meet the ever-changing needs of the people we serve.

We look forward to providing periodic updates on the progress of this transition. To stay informed, you can visit this page or follow the Nutrition Center Facebook page at

The NC believes that everyone deserves access to healthy food, as a fundamental right. Failing to address this basic need has far reaching impacts, for the individual and the community. The NC intentionally uses food as a tool for community building, leadership and youth development, and neighborhood revitalization. Through our work, we’ve realized that equity in our food system is deeply tied to inequity within our community, and that a whole-person, and whole-community, approach is critical to creating long-term change. By weaving together direct support with education and community change strategies, the NC builds resiliency at an individual, family, and community level.

The Nutrition Center has a long history of supporting healthy people and resilient communities through good food. Working alongside youth, gardeners, local food advocates and the public health community has allowed the NC to construct informed strategies and high-impact programs. Given the extensive poverty and health challenges in the local communities, providing education and increasing food access is a critical outreach strategy to reach vulnerable families.

Community Gardens

Lots to Gardens is a founding program of the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center. Since 1999, Lots to Gardens has transformed over a dozen vacant neighborhood lots into thriving urban gardens used by community members, schools, and youth gardeners in our training programs. The community gardens not only produce fresh fruits and vegetables but also contribute to vibrant city neighborhoods and remove barriers to accessing fresh foods.


Children’s Gardening and Cooking Programs

The St. Mary’s Nutrition Center provides children with a safe and fun environment to explore the wonders of growing and cooking healthy food. School-based and neighborhood gardening and cooking programs give children the chance to get their hands dirty, work as a team, and try fresh, delicious vegetables – sometimes right from the ground!


Cooking and Nutrition Education

We believe that preparing healthy meals shouldn’t be too complicated and that sharing good food together improves health and strengthens community connections. Our programs at the Nutrition Center teach simple nutrition messages and healthy cooking techniques, encourage positive food attitudes and decrease barriers to preparing healthy meals.


Food Access Initiatives

Food access strategies go beyond the garden gate at St. Mary’s Nutrition Center in Lewiston, Maine. The Center serves as a catalyst to kick-start projects that help increase access to healthy food in the community. Initiatives such as farmer’s markets, food buying clubs, and “market incentive” programs often thrive and take on a life of their own!


Youth Leadership

We believe that youth are essential partners in creating a healthier community. The St Mary’s Nutrition Center in Lewiston, Maine provides training opportunities for diverse crews of teenagers throughout the year. Their unique and powerful voices are heard within their community as they learn to grow, harvest and cook healthy food; learn about nutrition, food systems and hunger; and teach others their newfound knowledge. Youth receive stipends for participation in most programs. Applications are released a few months prior to each program’s start date and are competitive.


Food Pantry

As one of the largest emergency food pantries in Maine, the St. Mary's Food Pantry has been providing food assistance for residents of the greater Lewiston-Auburn area for over 20 years. The Food Pantry is located in the heart of downtown Lewiston across from Kennedy Park on the corner of Bates and Walnut Street and serves over 1,000 people weekly.

(207) 777-8100