A Brunswick woman has been selected as the next leader of the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Hannah Chatalbash. Courtesy of Ryan Flanagan

Hannah Chatalbash, who was born and raised in Brunswick, was named the organization’s new executive director last week. She will replace Karen Parker, who has served since 2011. Chatalbash, MCHPP’s current deputy director, has been with the organization for 10 years.

“I am committed to helping MCHPP continue operating flexible, accessible, low-barrier programming for years to come,” Chatalbash said in a statement.

The Brunswick-based program, which has a staff of 18 and more than 700 volunteers, operates a food pantry and soup kitchen on Tenney Way. It also runs pantries and delivery services in several other Midcoast communities, including schools.

“The compassion, intelligence and dedication to our work that Hannah demonstrates daily has earned her the full confidence of myself and the rest of MCHPP’s Board of Directors,” program board Chairperson Megan Hart said in a statement. “We are looking forward to working alongside her to maintain MCHPP’s status as the largest and most impactful hunger-relief organization in the Midcoast region.”

The organization credited Parker with more than doubling its services over her tenure.


“Replacing a beloved leader is no easy task, but we are confident that Hannah will continue to build on the strong foundation Karen has built during the past 13 years,” Hart added.

Parker congratulated her successor.

“She has exhibited the passion, knowledge and commitment needed to lead this organization into the future,” she said in a statement.

Parker earlier this summer said the program has seen a 25% increase in food pantry demand since March, when pandemic-era increases to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps, expired. The average Mainer in the program had been receiving about $100 extra a month.

“I’ve learned that there is no way to distinguish between someone who needs to use a food pantry and someone who does not, because most often, that line is barely perceptible,” Chatalbash said. “What I have seen in the past decade and what continues to inspire my work every day is the power of kindness when harnessed at a collective scale. Hundreds of guests, volunteers, donors and partners engaging in the sharing of kindness and community-building across demographic and socio-economic lines — that, to me, is incredibly motivational and it is going to shape our community for the next generation.”

MCHPP’s board said it used the Portland-based firm ProSearch to conduct a “thorough” candidate search.

“(We) are incredibly confident that MCHPP will thrive under Hannah’s care and vision,” the board said in a statement.

Chatalbash will begin her new role in October. Parker is retiring at the end of the year.

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