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Covenant Health is an innovative, Catholic regional delivery network and a leader in values based, not-for-profit health and elder care. We sponsor hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living residences and other health and elder care organizations throughout New England.

St. Mary's Nutrition Center

What we do

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.

The NC’s integrated programs include:

  • Urban community gardens (Lots to Gardens) for neighborhoods of limited income, which uses over a dozen community gardens to support households in growing their own food;
  • Children’s gardening and cooking programs in school classrooms and community sites reaching hundreds of children annually through hands-on, place-based activities that are woven across the classroom, cafeteria and outdoor learning spaces;
  • Cooking and nutrition education programs providing hands-on learning opportunities for hundreds of adults and seniors annually;
  • Youth leadership programs that engage teens in the garden, kitchen, and community and provide critical job skills for over 50 teens annually;
  • Food Access initiatives including year-round farmers’ markets, the Good Food Bus mobile market, an online local food buying club and related food access and “market incentive” programs; and
  • Food Pantry distribution that serves over 1,000 people per week.

The NC recognizes that a complex web of social, economic, and environmental factors determines a person's long-term health and wellbeing. The NC aims to create multiple opportunities for engagement that have greater impact when woven together. A child from the downtown elementary school may be involved in the NC-led school garden or after-school cooking club. His older sibling could apply for her first job with the NC Summer Youth Gardener program while their parents can sign up for a garden plot on their street or attend free cooking education classes down the block.

These programs and services are matched with the NC’s strategic investment in collaborations, as well as community-based assessment and planning activities. More than ever, the NC plays a convening role and provides some consistent backbone support to leverage capacity, talent, resources and leadership towards broader community goals in Lewiston and Auburn.

The Nutrition Center has been integral to the implementation of a multi-partner community food assessment and planning process - the first assessment of this nature and scope to be conducted in the State of Maine that has led to the creation of the regional food council, Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn (GFCLA). GFCLA reflects a growing national trend of using community food assessments as the basis for designing big-picture, long-term community food and nutrition solutions that combine programmatic and policy approaches.