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November 17, 2017

Androscoggin Bank awards $25K to Lewiston nutrition program

St. Mary's Nutrition Center in Lewiston was awarded the Androscoggin Bank Main Street Foundation's $25K for Kids grant. It's the fifth year the bank has awarded the grant, which is given to programs that help provide food, shelter and security for children.

The $25,000 grant will help strengthen youth leadership programs at the center, so it can better support teens who have limited opportunities or are living in poverty, the foundation bank said in a news release. The center, part of St. Mary's Health System, combines gardening, nutrition, cooking and other programs to increase access to food and healthy living.

The two other finalists were:

  • Children's Advocacy Center of Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford Counties, an organization focused on providing trauma-informed mental health treatment for children and families;
  • The Portland Children's Museum & Theatre, which is focused on children's development and learning through exploration and play.

Strengthening community connections

The nutrition center "supports the Lewiston-Auburn region by placing a value in strengthening community connections, addressing root causes, nurturing a sense of place, and facilitating a deeper commitment to equity across the community," the foundation stated in a news release. "They believe that everyone deserves access to healthy food, as a fundamental right. In today's world, there is a renewed sense of urgency behind how youth are engaged as partners. The nutrition center feels a great responsibility to promote youth as leaders both at the Nutrition Center and in the community."

Kirsten Walter, director of the nutrition center, said the MainStreet Foundation's funding "helps to ensure that Maine youth and kids remain safe, are provided with healthy meals, and have fair access to essential services, such as health care, counseling, and education. Investing in these essentials opens up much needed opportunity for kids — giving them a chance to dream, and the support and care needed to reach their goals."

Steve Closson, chairman of the foundation, said the committee evaluating proposals was impressed with nutrition center's desire to expand leadership and development programs to empower youth.

"The Nutrition Center's efforts to support community building, leadership and youth development, and neighborhood revitalization are deserving of this recognition," he said.

Previous $25K for Kids grants went to Preble Street Teen Center, Longley Elementary School's after-school programming, Androscoggin Childhood Advocacy Center and Good Shepherd Food Bank's BackPack Program.

The MainStreet Foundation is Androscoggin Bank's $1M foundation that has a mission of helping to keep at-risk kids in Maine safe, healthy, active, happy, educated and nourished. It also awards quarterly grants of up to $5,000 to nonprofit agencies.

The $25K for Kids grant began in 2013 in honor of Closson, who previously served as the bank's president.

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