At the coldest time of year, hot meals are bringing Islanders together. Six nights and one afternoon a week from January through March, churches around Martha’s Vineyard welcome everyone to take a seat and enjoy a free community supper or lunch.

This year’s community meals are off to a strong start, according to regular customer Kenny Ivory.

“At St. Augustine’s Thursday, they had about 30 people, and last night at Trinity it was packed,” Mr. Ivory said, during Sunday afternoon’s lasagna lunch at the Federated Church in Edgartown.

“I try to go to all of them,” he said. “It’s fun. Yes, the food is delicious, but it’s the people — talking to the people.”

Each community meal has its own distinct character. Trinity Worship Center in Oak Bluffs provides table service, like a restaurant, Mr. Ivory said. The First Congregational Church of West Tisbury welcomes side dishes and offers rides to people who can’t get to the meal on their own. They also extend the community dinners through April.

Lasagna on Sundays, and dinners every other night of the week at Island churches. — Jeanna Shepard

The Federated Church has been serving its Sunday lasagna lunch for almost a decade.

“This is the beginning of our eighth year,” said churchgoer Pam Butterick, who has led the volunteer effort there since its start. While reading a newspaper article about the Island’s community meal network, Ms. Butterick recalled, she saw a gap in the schedule.

“I thought, nobody’s doing Sunday and we’re all here,” she said.

While the evening meals are usually home-made casseroles, soups and salads prepared by volunteers, store-bought lasagna made perfect sense for Sunday afternoon at a busy church.

“People can make their own, but we know we can rely on the Stouffer’s,” Ms. Butterick said. “We could be in church all morning and still have a hot meal ready.”

Along with lasagna, the Federated Church lunch offers salad, garlic bread and dessert. Sunday, there was Caesar salad and a mixed green salad with a choice of dressings on the side. Nearby were plates of brownies, cupcakes and split blueberry muffins, with coffee and decaf dispensers alongside.

While Ms. Butterick presided, 13-year-olds Nick Carpenter and Connor Graves, both from Edgartown, served meat and vegetable lasagnas to guests arriving for firsts and returning for seconds. All the volunteers wore bib aprons and food service gloves and Ms. Butterick kept a ball cap over her hair. Though the meal is free and no donations are taken, the service strictly observes public health rules, she said.

Four party-size pans of lasagna are usually enough to go around, Ms. Butterick said, and there’s always a pan reserved for any Houses of Grace winter shelter guests who spend the night there on Mondays. Leftovers are sent home to shut-ins and the church always delivers a meal to its retired minister, John Schule, she said.

Food and fellowship go hand in hand. — Jeanna Shepard

All ages are welcome at the community meals, though on Sunday the servers were the only young people at the lunch. With school resuming Monday, many Island families were likely still away or just returning from vacation, Mr. Ivory said.

Nick Carpenter, who also serves as a youth usher at the church, is an old hand at dishing out lasagna. He’s been volunteering at the lunches for the past couple of years. For Connor Graves, it was a new experience.

“I like it so far,” he said. “Nick invited me and I need some community service hours for school, and I like doing stuff like this.”

Along with volunteers, Sunday’s lunch drew a mix of individuals, including a VTA bus driver on break, and couples who mingled across long tables in the church hall.

“There’s a lot more need on this Island than a lot of people realize. It’s amazing how many people don’t even have a place to live,” said Harvey Beth, who came to lunch with his wife, Ellie. Both are Federated Church members and volunteers.

“The church has really stepped up,” Mrs. Beth said.

During the week, the community supper schedule rotates through St. Andrew’s Church in Edgartown (Mondays), Chilmark Community Church (Tuesdays), First Congregational Church of West Tisbury (Wednesday’s), St. Augustine’s Church in Vineyard Haven (Thursdays), Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven (Fridays) and Trinity Church in Oak Bluffs (Saturdays).

Dinner hours are 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. except on Thursdays, when St. Augustine’s begins at 5 p.m.

The Houses of Grace winter shelter, also in effect through March, is at the Federated Church on Mondays, in the St. Andrew’s parish house Tuesdays, at Good Shepherd Parish Center in Oak Bluffs Wednesdays, at Federated again on Thursdays and at St. Andrew’s on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Shelter hours are 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. with dinner, bedding and breakfast included, and all ages are welcome.

The Houses of Grace warming center at Good Shepherd is open Mondays from 12:30 to 2 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.