Ernie Bullard, Food Services Director for MCH, Inc., works with his team to prepare 110-120 meals, Monday through Friday, for delivery to Meals on Wheels recipients in Knox County. He rises at 3 AM every morning to meet Will Gardiner and Lucy Stackpole at the MCH kitchen in Rockland at 5 AM. Ernie and Will prepare meals and Lucy packs the meals in special containers for delivery. The meals are packaged then delivered by a rotating group of 45 dedicated volunteers to recipients in every corner of Knox County. Drivers begin picking up meals at 8:30 AM.
In addition to daily Meals on Wheels meals, Ernie and Will prepare a lunch meal for the congregate meals site at the Methodist Conference Home on Summer Street in Rockland five days a week. Ernie also supervises 3 servers; Kathleen Blanco, Janessa Milliken, Gail Yamello, and another kitchen at the Rankin Center staffed by Sarah Barbour.
Not many of the elderly and disabled Meals on Wheels individuals who enjoy Ernie’s daily cooking know his involvement with Meals on Wheels stretches back to his childhood in the Swissvale neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Along with many others in their neighborhood, Ernie’s mom, Roberta, was a volunteer Meals on Wheels delivery driver. In middle school Ernie helped his Mom in the summertime, running meals from her car to the houses and apartments. Drivers met in the morning at the Presbyterian church, received their route instructions then drove to the local hospital kitchen to pick up a bag, cold lunch and a hot meal. There were six different routes, each with about 25-30 people, in Swissvale and Braddock Hills and Rankin for which the group was responsible. It was all about neighbors delivering to people they knew in the neighborhood.
Ernie graduated from Swissvale High School in June 1985 and in August that year enlisted in the U.S. Army. He did his basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, joined the Third Infantry Division of Audi Murphy fame and was stationed at United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt in Germany. He was an M-1 Tank Driver and regularly volunteered for KP which provided him with the best food, best treatment and an opportunity to hone his kitchen skills. He was honorably discharged in 1988. Returning home to Pittsburgh, Ernie worked as produce manager at East End Food Co-op. In addition, while at East End, he helped get a popular vegan-natural cuisine café off the ground.
One of Ernie’s abiding passions since high school has been playing and composing music. In 1991, along with band, Tiny Little Help!, he moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where they played music full-time. In 1995 the band returned to Pittsburgh, made two records, played regular gigs, started a record label, Rickety Records, hosted events and introduced new bands in the community. At the same time he was working day jobs in food service at the local hospital, managing a video store, working shifts in a coffee shop and cooking at a bed and breakfast. He met Sara Martin, his future wife, at the coffee shop and in 2001 he moved to Philadelphia to be closer to her. They married in 2003.
For a few years he managed a pet store, did many catering jobs and then in 2007 began managing back-stage catering for events by the Live Nation concert producers working all their major shows in Philadelphia for performers like Billy Joel, Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead, Madonna and Elton John.
In 2014 Ernie and Sara decided to slow down, pursue a country life and made a big move to Washington, Maine. Sara is a dental hygienist at a practice in Rockport. Ernie began working for MCH Inc. in 2015. At home they enjoy the good life on their farm with their 3 hens, a rooster and Red Wattle pig. Ernie still enjoys playing guitar in his spare time.