What We Do

Food & Nutrition

About our Programs

YWCA Central Maine launched its Food & Nutrition Program in 2017 to address children’s food insecurity in Lewiston and Auburn communities. We now provide two meals and one snack every day to all children in our care.

Because our programs are developed in line with our mission to create equitable, just, and dignified resources for all, we believe that offering food to families in need is essential for continued health and well-being and should also be provided in a dignified manner. Therefore, a primary objective of our comprehensive Food & Nutrition program is to ensure all children attending our childcare programs, as well as the children and families we serve in the community through other programs, have equal access to fresh, healthy, well-balanced, and delicious breakfast, lunches, and snacks each day, regardless of socioeconomic barriers.

Virtual Food Pantry

YWCA Central Maine is pleased to announce the official launch of a food pantry at our location in Lewiston! The pantry is open to all local families in need; no need to fill out a formal application, and it can be completely anonymous if needed. We hope to keep staples and culturally specific needs on stock and will do our best to accommodate allergies and specific dietary requirements.

The pantry is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for pre-arranged pickups (note: orders must be placed at least 24 hours in advance). We offer a no-contact service by allowing you to pick up pre-packed boxes in our lobby. Simply fill out our online form and pick up your groceries at your chosen pick-up time(s).

Note: Due to short staffing, walk-ins are ONLY accepted Fridays from 8a – 10a. No walk-in orders will be filled other days of the week until further notice. 

By the Numbers

Throughout the year, our program offers two meals per day and one snack for all children in our Early Childhood Education center; after school snacks to school-aged children during the school year; and two meals per day and one snack to school-aged children during school closures (such as vacation days and school closure days). We provide more than 54,000 meals and snacks to children in our care each year. Additionally, our Food & Nutrition Program began offering meals to the community in the summer of 2019, serving 373 dinners at family-focused events in partnership with the Lewiston Police Department in addition to the breakfasts, lunches, and snacks we provided on-site.

When the schools closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we immediately became a community meal pick-up site for families with children, providing the community—who are not even affiliated with the YWCA more than 300 additional meals per week in March, April, and May 2020. Along with our on-site meals (which we also expanded to serve the school-aged children in our care during school closures), we served 3,978 meals in April 2020 alone!

While these numbers are impressive alone, the need is far greater than what we can provide at our current capacity. According to the most recently reported census data, food insecurity is disproportionately high in Lewiston, Maine, as the median household income is below the national average and the poverty rate is 21.4 percent. Before piloting the YWCA Food & Nutrition program in October 2017, YWCA staff noted that many preschool children came to our Early Learning Center with calorically inadequate lunches, low in nutritional value and highly processed—or with little to no food at all.

Feeding the Future

In addition to addressing the immediate, short-term concerns of food insecurity for children and families, YWCA Central Maine’s Food & Nutrition programs also prioritize longer-term outcomes by introducing new foods to expand children’s exposure to various flavors and textures. We also offer nutrition education, gardening, and cooking opportunities. We believe this will break cycles of food insecurity and reliance on highly processed and nutritionally inadequate foods, which is systemic in communities with high poverty rates, especially those in urban environments where access to fresh food is scarcer. It is our goal that this will help children to learn more about food and nutrition as a regular part of our childcare educational curriculum, which are lessons that will be transformative and last a lifetime. In alignment with our mission to eliminate racism, all foods are prepared in a culturally responsive manner: we try to adjust food needs for allergies and special diets, and cultural and religious preferences.

Onion Foundation

 

Supported in part by a grant from the Onion Foundation

USDA Disclosure

In accordance with federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.

Program information may be made available in languages other than English. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication to obtain program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language), should contact the responsible state or local agency that administers the program or USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

To file a program discrimination complaint, a Complainant should complete a Form AD-3027, USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form which can be obtained online at: https://www.usda.gov/sites/default/files/documents/USDA-OASCR%20P-Complaint-Form-0508-0002-508-11-28-17Fax2Mail.pdf, from any USDA office, by calling (866) 632-9992, or by writing a letter addressed to USDA. The letter must contain the complainant’s name, address, telephone number, and a written description of the alleged discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights (ASCR) about the nature and date of an alleged civil rights violation. The completed AD-3027 form or letter must be submitted to USDA by:

  1. mail:
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, D.C. 20250-9410; or
  2. fax:
    (833) 256-1665 or (202) 690-7442; or
  3. email:
    program.intake@usda.gov

 This institution is an equal opportunity provider.