An aerial view of the Snacks with Friends event at Mitchell Field in June. (MIKE MISKILL PHOTO)
After an 18-month hiatus owing to the coronavirus pandemic, Harpswell Aging at Home’s Lunch with Friends will return in September.
There are two dates scheduled — Thursday, Sept. 2 at Mackerel Cove and Thursday, Sept. 9 at Mitchell Field — with the possibility of more taking place in October. HAH tested the waters during the spring and summer, hosting outdoor gatherings at both locations that will host lunches this month.
“We know everyone has been anxious to get back to the delicious food and socializing that we were used to with Lunch with Friends,” said Surrey Hardcastle, chair of Harpswell Aging at Home’s Food Committee.
In the past, lunches took place in five locations — Harpswell Neck, Orr’s Island, Bailey Island, Great Island and Cundy’s Harbor — but Hardcastle said those do not “seem feasible at this time.”
“Given that the Snacks with Friends format was successful, we have decided to reinvent Lunch with Friends (outside) at these scenic locations,” she said.
Given that the lunch events will be taking place outside, inclement weather could cause postponements, but rain dates — Friday, Sept. 3 for Mackerel Cove and Friday, Sept. 10 for Mitchell Field — have been planned. The Harpswell town office will be notified of postponement or cancellation.
Since the beginning of January, HAH’s food team has served 2,138 meals through its Meals in a Pinch program and the two Snacks with Friends gatherings.
“We are committed to continuing to support those who need meals delivered (Meals in a Pinch takes place every other week) and providing food events for all in a way that is consistent with the ever-changing CDC recommendations,” said Hardcastle. “It is important for us to provide experiences that are social as well as nutritious.”
As for the unpredictable nature of the coronavirus, Hardcastle said Harpswell Aging at Home will follow recommendations from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“If they say no outdoor socialization, obviously we will cancel,” she said. “We are checking their updates all the time.”
In addition to being outside, another COVID-19 impact on Lunch with Friends is that attendees will be asked to bring a chair.
“Also, instead of a buffet-style presentation, servers will deliver food options to each person, as they did at Snacks with Friends,” Hardcastle said. “We are doing everything to ensure your safety in food preparation and presentation.”
What will be the same?
“The food will continue to be incredible! Our amazing Harpswell chefs will provide us with delicious, creative finger food options,” said Hardcastle. “Participants will continue to go home having eaten too much and tried some new things while enjoying the reconnection with other Harpswellites and making new friends.”
She was quick to note the support HAH has received from the town of Harpswell, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, the Orr’s Island Library Book Group and other volunteers who make these events possible.
Hardcastle said Harpswell residents of all ages should attend Lunch with Friends.
“It takes all of us to create this wonderful community,” she said. “It is a great way for residents to reconnect as well as for new members of Harpswell to meet people and to take part in what makes it special.”
For more information about Harpswell Aging at Home, visit its website at hah.community or its Facebook page at facebook.com/harpswellagingathome.