Among volunteers serving, packaging and delivering 350 meals to residents of Saco, Biddeford and Old Orchard Beach on Sunday were Tony Debarrus, Dick Gendron and Lucie Hatch. Age Friendly Saco teamed up with Ferry Beach Retreat & Conference Center and many willing hands to provide the community meal on the eve of Valentine’s Day. Tammy Wells Photo

SACO — Volunteers with Age Friendly Saco, Saco Bay Rotary, Ferry Beach Retreat & Conference Center, and others got together to prepare and deliver lunch for 350 people on Sunday. Lots of hard work, and contributions from the community — both financial and gifts of time — went into the celebratory community meal to help mark Valentine’s Day

The recipe to make something like this happen includes:

• Purchase and prepare food for 350 servings of chicken parmesan, sauce, spaghetti, side salad and carrot cake.

• Pair with lovely Valentine cards designed and created by students at Thornton Academy, who also wrote thoughtful notes to the recipients — like “I hope you have a loving Valentine’s Day,” and “(I hope) you spend it with someone you love.”

• Pop in one more treat, chocolate, from Robin’s Confections.

• Then line up your ranks of volunteers — servers, packers, and drivers — and go.


Students at Thornton Academy designed and created Valentine cards that were tucked into each meal package delivered to 350 residents of Biddeford, Saco and Old Orchard Beach on Sunday. Tammy Wells Photo

It was the second community meal this winter season — the first took place just before the Christmas holiday, said Jean Saunders of Age Friendly Saco. In all, said Saunders, 22 people volunteered to deliver the meals, starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Age Friendly Saco first came together with Ferry Beach Retreat & Conference Center to provide a delivered meal during the height of the pandemic, when gathering together was not possible, and some usual annual events could not take place.

Cathy Stackpole, director at Ferry Beach Retreat & Conference Center, said the organization is marking its 120th year in 2022, and started working with Age Friendly Saco a couple of years ago.

“Ferry Beach is becoming more connected to the community,” said Stackpole, and expanding its prior summer programming into a year around presence. She said the organization donated its space, and Chef Jason Gregoire volunteered his time to prepare the meal.

The community meal was supported by Robin’s Confections and Jim Godbout Plumbing and Heating, Saco & Biddeford Savings, Bangor Savings Bank, Kennebunk Savings, Saco Bay Rotary, Rotary Club of Biddeford-Saco, Ferry Beach Retreat & Conference Center and Age Friendly Saco, along with Thornton Academy student card designers and a host of other volunteers.

The meals went out to residents of Saco, Old Orchard Beach and Biddeford — to anyone who signed up, said Saunders.


The meal assembly and packing went smoothly.

The chicken parm? Well, Gregoire is not handing out his recipe, he said with a smile, but as he helped the others portion and pack up the meals, he pronounced the event “very nice.”

Phil Hatch of Saco Bay Rotary Club said the organization works well with Age Friendly Saco.

“Jean reaches out, and we try to help when we can,” he said.

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