Takeout, delivery or drive-through — this year churches around Martha’s Vineyard are transforming their wintertime community suppers to a new, pandemic-safe format.

For years, Island churches have joined to offer free meals for Islanders every night of the week throughout the coldest months of the year. With in-person gathering off the table this year, four churches have adapted their programs to a takeout format, working together to keep the program alive.

“It felt important to all of us to do something this year, whatever it was that we could do for as many weeks as we could do,” said Barbara Spain, a volunteer running the community supper program at the United Methodist Church of Martha’s Vineyard. “Besides the fact that you feel like you’re helping people, there is just this huge feeling of community and love and it has become so important.”

The suppers, which are running on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, are sourced through donations from local markets like Cronig’s and off-Island donation sources and cooked by a devoted team of congregants and volunteers.

Sydney Mullen transports food to the pick-up location at the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury. — Mark Alan Lovewell

At Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven, volunteer program leader Leslie Frizzell said the church’s weekly Friday suppers are planned entirely around what is available through the Greater Boston Food Bank.

“We’re trying to still make it fun for people,” said Ms. Frizzell, who has been cooking up picnic-style meals this year, from burgers and fries to clam chowder and tuna melts. The meals often feature a surprise side dish or dessert element, like fresh pineapple and bags of chocolates and pistachios.

At the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury, longtime community supper leader Marjorie Peirce and co-leader Sydney Mullen have opted for a rotating menu, including cooked ham and meatloaf, sourced through donations from Cronig’s and local gleaners.

“I don’t think we ever considered canceling it, we were going to figure out a way to get food to people but it was a challenge,” said Ms. Mullen of the church’s weekly Wednesday takeout meal. “Part of our church’s mission is an extravagant welcome, and that’s what we try to do on Wednesdays.”

While most of the meals are available through pick-up at church buildings and neighborhood locations, some congregations are including other inventive methods.

At the United Methodist Church, the bi-weekly Saturday dinners are in a drive-through format outside the church. At West Tisbury and Grace Church, volunteers have also begun hand delivering meals to those who are uncomfortable or unable to retrieve them in person.

As buffet tables have turned to takeout boxes, and social distancing puts restrictions on the volunteer base, organizers said the community suppers are all hands on deck.

At Good Shepard Parish, facilities manager and volunteer Joe Capobianco shops, cooks and distributes meals every other Thursday with a team of eight volunteers. Mr. Capobianco, who routinely orders from the Boston food bank, has been ordering goods for several other churches.

“We try to help out whenever we can because a lot of the food is at no cost at the food bank,” Mr. Capobianco said. “If there’s an extra bag of onions or some butternut squash that I didn’t use, they can also use that.”

Volunteers keep the food coming at Grace Episcopal Church, and around the Island. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Some churches, like the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury, have received grants from the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation to hire their volunteer leaders. Others have received community donations to help fill the gaps.

Restaurants and chefs around the Island have also pitched in, lending equipment, donating desserts and in some cases, volunteering to take cooking shifts.

“It’s really a great thing to have the participation of chefs and those who want to make desserts or donate monies,” said Ms. Spain. “It’s just really nice to be a part of this whole big Island-based thing.”

Turnout for the suppers has been strong so far, organizers said, with most churches serving anywhere from 40 to 70 community members each week. Ms. Spain said the Methodist church served 90 meals last week alone.

Many churches also began their suppers earlier than usual this fall, with rates of food insecurity rising on and off the Island.

“We usually don’t start until January, but this year we started in November because we felt the need was there,” Ms. Frizzell said.

Most churches said they plan to continue serving meals through the end of March, though some may extend the program further into the spring if need persists. And while veteran volunteers expressed disappointment at the distanced format, nearly all said the suppers have provided them with a much-needed injection of community warmth.

“That sense of community, that sense of just humanity, which the isolation of the pandemic has sort of stripped away from people, bringing some of that back in was really the most important part,” said Ms. Mullen. “To be able to see people, to have these sort of low-stakes interactions with strangers . . . It’s really a sense of normalcy.”

Ms. Peirce agreed. “It gives those of us who do it a lot of joy and I know that it means a lot to the community,” she said.

Suppers run weekly on Wednesdays at West Tisbury Congregational Church (sign up by 5 p.m. Mondays, 508-693-2842) and on Fridays at Grace Church in Vineyard Haven (sign up by Thursday 4 p.m., 508-693-0332).

Bi-weekly suppers run on Thursdays at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church in Vineyard Haven (sign up by Wednesday 4 p.m., 508-693-0342) and on Saturdays at Trinity Methodist Church Oak Bluffs (sign up by Friday 5 p.m., 508-693-6443).