Harpswell Aging at Home volunteer Cheryl Dunning packs bags of food for delivery to Meals in a Pinch recipients.


Sit back, close your eyes and recall that first bite of your favorite home-cooked meal. Even better, imagine you didn’t have to cook it! Harpswell Aging at Home’s Meals in a Pinch program brings together the generosity of a community to provide home-cooked meals to some of our neighbors, because everybody needs a hand now and then. Whether an ongoing need or temporary support, HAH’s Meals in a Pinch team delivers!

While every other Tuesday is the day when more than 150 meals are delivered to nearly 50 homes, the HAH volunteers who work this magic are in constant motion.

Here’s a simplified snapshot of how it all comes together:

First things first: Cooks from every corner of Harpswell sign up online, logging the dish they will prepare and providing a list of all ingredients. Labels listing ingredients are created for each and every dish. Promised contributions are monitored to ensure the week’s volume and special dietary requirements will be met. If tweaks are needed, food from HAH’s freezers is utilized to supplement the week’s volunteer offerings.

Getting ready: Packing supplies are assembled. Donated food cards are shared with cooks to supplement their future cooking or with recipients who might need a little extra assistance. The work site at Great Island Church of the Nazarene is readied for action!

Always something new: The recipient list is in constant flux. Calls to “regulars” or new recipients are made to understand food preferences. Drivers and packers are contacted to ensure all staffing needs will be covered. Delivery routes are organized and shared with drivers.

Monday — one day to go: Volunteers, in kitchens all over Harpswell, begin cooking their Meals in a Pinch contributions. Food from the Harpswell Community Garden, the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, Merrymeeting Gleaners or others is picked up and delivered to the church. Some of this food gets cooked for Tuesday, some is given to volunteers for later use. The “special attention” delivery list is prepared for packers.

Tuesday — this is it: Packers load cars with supplies, pick up donations and head to ground zero. Informational flyers, drawings from children or thoughtful notes from other Harpswell volunteers are placed in delivery bags. Food is joyfully accepted as cooks drop off their offerings. Meals are labeled to ensure awareness of ingredients. The packers function as a well-oiled machine, working efficiently and with great camaraderie. Food from freezers is arranged in coolers. Each recipient will receive two fresh and two frozen meals. Packers fill the personalized bags, noting recipients’ specific needs or preferences. All work is performed under Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Drivers arrive, cars are loaded and off they go. Smiles and hellos abound as friends deliver meals to friends. The remaining food is inventoried and placed in one of HAH’s three freezers for future use. Recycling, composting and trash is delivered to the recycling center. The operations site is scrubbed clean.

And then — it starts all over again!

For more information about how HAH can lend a hand — ongoing or temporary — contact Julie Moulton at juliemoulton28@gmail.com or 330-5416.