If you’re hungry or lonesome on Martha’s Vineyard in the middle of a weekday, there’s a free, fresh meal and a warm welcome waiting for you in at least one public gathering place.

Madelyn Garvin enjoys her fresh melon. — Maria Thibodeau

Twice a week, rain or shine, at each of three locations — the Family Center in Vineyard Haven, the Oak Bluffs Public Library and the West Tisbury Free Public Library — volunteers serve a hot or cold lunch prepared that morning in the well-scrubbed culinary arts kitchen at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

The meal program was started to assist several hundred Island children who might not have enough to eat during the summer months. But now age, residence and income don’t matter: Everyone is welcome to a nutritious lunch.

“We don’t have to say no to anybody,” said Mary Sage Napolitan of the Island Grown nonprofit, which organizes and provides the meals.

Lunch is also served for free at the Martha’s Vineyard Boys & Girls Club and the Tisbury School, but only for children enrolled in summer programs there. Noli Taylor, community food education director for Island Grown, said about 80 children are in the English language learner program at Tisbury and another 120 are Boys & Girls Club members, although some bring their own lunches.

This is the second summer that Island Grown, aided by scores of community volunteers, has provided a free lunch on weekdays, and the first in which the meal is open to all ages.

Island Grown started the program in 2017 to help feed more than 700 Martha’s Vineyard schoolchildren who were believed to be in danger of going hungry during summer vacation, when school lunches aren’t served.

Island Grown Initiative started the program in 2017 to help feed more than 700 Martha’s Vineyard schoolchildren who might otherwise have gone hungry. This year the program has expanded beyond children and all are welcome. — Maria Thibodeau

Ms. Taylor said the number of at-risk children this year is closer to 900.

“More than 40 percent of all the kids in our schools are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. It’s more than 50 percent at the Oak Bluffs School and the charter school,” she said.

Last year, Island Grown partnered with the state education department to receive funding from the United States Department of Agriculture, which offers reimbursements for summer meal programs serving low-income schoolchildren.

But the federal government’s requirements were both paperwork-heavy and from a Vineyard standpoint nonsensical, relying on census data that identified West Chop as a low-income area and ruled out up-Island entirely.

The USDA also limits the summer service to children 18 and younger and requires every lunch to include a container of milk, which Island kids rejected.

In 2018, a private donor stepped up to fund the Vineyard lunch program — without limitations on who can be served.

“The money was all raised here. That’s important,” said Mary Ellen Larsen, one of 100 volunteers with the summer lunch program this year.

Since the meal service began nearly a month ago, Vineyard children, parents, seniors and other adults have gathering for lunch at the three open sites, each of which has its individual character.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, picnic lunches on the Family Center grounds draw chiefly mothers with young children who have spent the morning taking part in activities there, along with neighborhood seniors and patrons from the library just across Greenwood avenue.

Last Monday, Family Center staffers played with toddlers and talked with a pair of moms whose babies lay on a blanket beneath a tree. Two preschoolers, a boy and a girl, played with watering cans and sampled pea shoots from a planter marked Taste Me. Various games and toys were set out for more educational play.

Astrid Tilton serves a hungry lunch-goer. The summer lunches conclude August 17. — Maria Thibodeau

The West Tisbury library, which hosts lunch Tuesdays and Thursdays on its wide, flower-edged deck, also sets out games and blankets for an all-ages crowd that includes Island families and seniors from nearby Howes House.

On July 31, lunch was a chicken Caesar salad with pita bread and melon for dessert. Adults sat and chatted or carried their little ones across the grass, while schoolchildren ran from the deck to the library’s full-size playhouse and back as butterflies roamed among coneflowers and black-eyed Susans.

Outside the Oak Bluffs library, lunch is served — with games and blankets available — on Wednesdays and Fridays in the shade of the maple trees outside the library’s ground floor.

On July 27, Oak Bluffs diners could take their salads and turkey rolls or cheese sticks to go, but most — including couples, family groups, librarians and other single adults — gathered in the library’s gazebo.

“Generally, people like to hang out,” said Ms Napolitan, who supervises both the Family Center and West Tisbury meals.

She said about 20 people have been eating lunch in Oak Bluffs, the least-used of the summer sites. Her team brings 25 meals and any left over are shared with staff and volunteers.

But she said the first day was an instant sellout, with 40 servings of pulled pork dished up in about 10 minutes.

A lot depends on the weather, Ms. Napolitan said: Even though lunch is served indoors on rainy days, poor weather means fewer people show up.

And the number of meals served doesn’t always indicate how many people are taking advantage of the program, Ms. Napolitan added: At the Family Center, where parents may bring very young children as well as older ones, “sometimes we’ll have a whole family, but they’ll only take two lunches.”

Oak Bluffs School chef Jean Zdankowski is in charge of food preparation for a menu that changes over a 10-day rotation, always with lean protein, a bread or chips, local vegetables and fresh fruit.

On August 1 at the high school, Ms. Zdankowski and half a dozen volunteers prepped 165 meals of rice and beans with chicken thighs for the day’s lunch. Ms. Taylor said this dish is a particular hit at the Tisbury School English language program, where virtually every one of the 80 students is homesick for Brazil.

Another beloved dish Ms. Zdankowski has served up is the cheese bread known as pão de queijo, which Ms. Taylor said lighted up the Brazilian children’s eyes when they saw it.

Instead of milk, the kitchen crew prepares cooler-dispensers of plain water inflused with fresh orange or lemon and cucumber for flavor.

This year’s switch away from USDA rules has given the Island program a boost, Ms. Napolitan said, “because kids don’t have to take things they don’t want.

“It’s nice that we can also feed parents,” she added.

The summer lunches conclude August 17 in Oak Bluffs. See this month’s schedule and daily menu.