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Bean Supper - A Maine Tradition with a New Twist

The Maine Council of Churches has created a downloadable resource kit for churches and other groups that are interested in offering a new version of the traditional bean "suppah" or other community meals.  We have suggestions for healthier versions of favorite recipes.  We've also included local sources for produce and other goods so your meal will support your community farmers and other local businesses.  Locally farmed foods are generally better for the environment as the goods do not travel thousands of miles to reach our dinner plates.  And many local farms practice organic and other environmentally friendly methods of production.

We hope you'll find these resources helpful in planning and executing a community meal that includes local foods.  So enjoy this twist on a Maine tradition. . .a Bean Suppah that is good for personal health, the local economy and the environment.  

MCC thanks Communities Promoting Health/PROP - People's Regional Opportunity Program for funding this effort and for providing nutrition information.  Other contributors include the Eat Local Foods Coalition.(with special thanks to food photographer Russell French) and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources.     

Bean Supper Resource Kit 

I. Organizing  Tools

I.1. Timeline/Responsibilities Checklist for Organizing a Bean Supper

Planning and communicating responsibilities helps ensure a successful event.  This spreadsheet covers a wide range of activities and time frames for completing various tasks. Use this to get started and add to it as you think of additional assignments.

Bean Supper planning timeline.xls 

I.2 Budget

Here is a spreadsheet to get started.  Build your budget, then track actual revenues and expenses against your plan.  

BS Sample Budget.xls

   II. Supper Items

II.1  Recipe/Ingredients Cards or Table Tents

Use one of these cards or make your own to advertise your event or provide recipes or ingredient lists.

Maine Bean Supper Recipe Card side 1.doc

Recipe Card Side 2.doc

II.2   Placemats

Another great idea:  make place mats that feature the local farms and farmers, healthy food facts or other information that makes your event special.  Here's an example produced by Casco Village Church, UCC:  

Placemat PDF.pdf

II.3   Non-plastic, compostable dinnerware

If you have access to a dishwasher, traditional dishes and cutlery are best for the environment.  If you must use disposable, one-use items, consider biodegradable dinnerware and cutlery.  New products are continually being introduced (often made of cornstarch), so an internet search of eco-friendly disposable dishes and cutlery should yield several good choices.   

 III. Marketing/Publicity 

III.1  Posters and postcards (full color or black and white)

Don't forget to hang posters and distribute postcards about your event.  Here's a beautiful photo of beans that may be used as a poster or postcard.  Highlight your use of local foods to draw a crowd.

RFMAINE BEANpostcard2010color.doc

RFMAINE BEANpostcard2010bw.doc

Bean supper idea for postcard.doc

III.3  Press Release

Publicize your supper!  Local press will be especially interested if they know that your Bean Supper incorporates Maine foods and includes other creative ideas.  A photo including community members preparing the meal, etc. can be included with your press release.  A list of Maine media is provided in the attached document.  Because policies and deadlines vary, it is best to look at the website of media you would like to help publicize your supper.  Be sure to follow the instructions provided and call if you aren't sure of how to proceed.  For a special event (meal that includes entertainment, special fundraiser, etc.) you might even get a local reporter to cover your event.  

To view a list of Maine media, click here:  

  Press List via MaineDirect.pdf 

 Note:  this list is from the Maine Direct distribution service, a paid service that electronically distributes press releases to Maine media.

If you are interested in this service, use the following website.

  IV.  Maine Seasonal Recipes and Serving Suggestions


See what you've learned?  Make a game of learning healthy portion sizes.  Try this worksheet (answers included).

Serves You Right Worksheet Color.pdf

Serves You Right Worksheet b&w.pdf

IV.1 Recipes

The recipes included here have been provided by a variety of sources.  We've included healthier versions (along with serving and nutritional information) of traditional favorites that feature foods available from Maine producers. Enjoy!

IV.1.2   Baked Beans

Maine Beans…the Heart of a Bean Supper

Yankee Magazine has 64 different Bean Recipes online. For variety in your traditional Bean Supper, go to and see if there are any recipes that sound fun to try. You can substitute local Maine products such as maple syrup, mustard, sea salt, vegetable oil or salt pork/bacon, where similar ingredients are called for. 

For another new twist to a Maine tradition, what about showcasing bean recipes from several cultures, continents, Maine refugee communities, etc?  This might be an opportunity to get to know New American neighbors in your community and learn about their traditional bean recipes. Perhaps your bean supper could be a fundraiser for a project they are undertaking.  

Here are a few bean recipes you might like to try:

Maple Bacon Baked Beans.pdf


IV.1.3  Bean Hole Beans

The University of Maine Folklife Center offers a rich history of the important role of beans as a staple food for Native Americans, information on the types of beans and recipes for traditional Bean Hole Beans.  MOFGA also has moved from molasses to only using Maine Maple Syrup for their bean hole suppers.  Check out this resources for more information:

IV.1.4  Local Harvest Dishes

Autumn Harvest Corn.pdf

Barbeque Burgers.pdf

Broccoli Calzones.pdf

Chicken Pot Pie with Mashed Potatoes.pdf

Italian Inspired Pasta with Maine White Beans.pdf

Macaroni and Cheese with Ham.pdf

Sloppy Garden Joes.pdf

Vegetables and Soups

Braised Greens.pdf

Carrot Chowder.pdf

Carrot Ginger Soup.pdf

Cheddar Chicken Chowder.pdf

Maine Coast Sea Vegetable Chowdah.pdf

Maple Roasted Root Vegetables.pdf

Salads and Slaws

Aroostook Wheatberry Fruit Salad.pdf

Carrot Raisin Slaw.pdf

Greek Garden Salad.pdf

Hot and Sour Slaw.pdf

Red Potato and Egg Salad.pdf

Maine Shrimp Salad Nicoise.pdf

Marinated Vegetable Salad.pdf


While not traditional for a Bean Supper, we include these for your consideration because they are a healthy, delicious alternative to sour cream or mayonnaise based dips.  They feature lots of veggies and herbs from the summer harvest.  

Fresh Tomato Salsa.pdf

Black Bean Salsa.pdf


Pies are a bean supper tradition.  Why not invite your bakers to use only Maine fruits.  Maine fruits provide lots of options for healthy and delicious desserts. Here are some healthier options that incorporate local produce.

Rhubarb and Oat Crisp.pdf

Maine Apple Gingerbread.pdf

Wild Blueberry Cobbler.pdf

Pumpkin Snack Cakes.pdf

Apple Crisp-1.pdf

IV.2  Portions/Serving Ideas

Here are some fun posters you can download (in both color and black & white) to remind your guests that healthy eating includes watching portion size.  Just because it's an "All You Can Eat" Meal doesn't mean you should!!  You can use these visual aids to remind diners of appropriate serving sizes.  This poster uses the hand and the thumb size to estimate portion sizes.

 Estimating Portions - color.pdf

Estimating Portions- black and white.pdf

What do a baseball and a deck of cards have in common? Both are handy references for "guesstimating" portions of some of our favorite foods.

How Much Is Too Much Color.pdf

How Much Is Too Much b&w.pdf


 V. Local Farms/Farmstands, Products and other Resources


The Maine Eat Local Foods Coalition has created a local foods resource map/ directory that showcases farms, farmstands, seafood outlets, community kitchens, etc. The map includes over 1300 different points of information and is growing daily as local foods enterprises are established across the state.  On the map, you can search the categories of greatest interest and closest to you.  By clicking on a dot, you open up a detailed description of the local foods business (i.e. farm, seafood provider, etc.) and get contact information, directions, products available, and other useful information.


Dedicated to serving Maine since 1995, Crown O’ Maine distributes locally grown produce across Maine. COMOC welcomes buying clubs, restaurants, or neighborhood retail establishments to its growing collection of foods produced by local farmers, fishermen, and artisans. Chances are good the Co-op has a delivery site near you and you can arrange to order directly for your Bean Supper. Some specialty Maine products, such as oils, grains and beans, can be accessed through COMOC. Current list of available products is on the website. Call 877-7444 or email for more information.



Originally assembled in 2008 to support school nutrition programs in Cumberland County in their efforts to purchase from local food producers and to participate in Maine’s Harvest Lunch program, this directory lists farms and other businesses that have expressed a willingness to sell directly to schools and other institutions. The directory lists the farms/businesses by name, their contact information, and available products.  Similar directories may be available in other counties through the Communities Promoting Health Coalition.  The Cumberland Directory is available here: 2010 Cumberland County Local Foods Resource Directory 2010.pdf


VI.  Additional Games,Activities and Fundraising Ideas

VI.1  Games and Activities

Here's a list of ideas for activities that might be enjoyed by children and others attending your Bean Supper.  Use your imagination to come up with other activities to engage children, teens and adults in your community.  Don't forget to publicize any fund or interesting activities that will help draw participants to your event.

Games and Activities.pdf

VI.2 Fundraising Ideas

If you using your bean supper as a fundraiser a food pantry or other non-profit, be sure to let that organization know so they can inform their members and volunteers.  There are many ways to go about fundraising during the event.  Here are a few.  We encourage you to come up with others.

Fundraising Ideas.pdf 

Here's a recipe booklet, created by the Gorham Ecumenical Ecumenical Council in 2009.  The Council called their event Harmony and Harvest.  A concert was held prior to the meal with performances by participating churches.  Proceeds of the event benefited Habitat for Humanity. This event proved to be a success and the event will be repeated in 2010.  


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