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Senior Center launches lunch program ahead of grand opening

By: Kathryn Palmer Of The Lincoln News Messenger
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Although the Senior Center’s grand opening is more than a month away, the recently-renovated space is well into its mission of supporting area seniors. Beginning in October, the Placer County-focused nonprofit Seniors First is serving free lunches weekday afternoons at the new Center.

 

“We encourage people aged 60 and over to come to the center, to socialize and have a good meal,” said Lynda Alexander, Senior’s First Senior Nutrition Program’s administrative assistant.

 

The new Senior Center building in downtown Lincoln on H Street, owned and maintained by the city, is run by a steering committee of representatives from local charities, nonprofit organizations and faith-based organizations.

 

Those who can pay are encouraged to make a $3 donation per meal, which helps Seniors First offset the lunch program’s costs.

 

Alexander said each meal costs $8, more than twice the maximum suggested donation amount, resulting in a significantly-subsidized meal option. The program is part of Senior’s First’s efforts to confront hunger and food insecurity in the senior population.

 

Thirty percent of Placer County’s seniors report having to choose between purchasing food and spending money on medical care and medicine, according to the Placer Food Bank.

Approximately five Lincoln-area residents currently take advantage of the lunch program every day, said Seniors First Site Manager Beverley Puderer.

 

Seniors First and the center’s steering committee hope that number will increase as word spreads about the lunch program. Lunches provide a third of the recommended dietary allowance and nutrition for those aged over 60, according to Seniors First representatives.

 

Lincoln City Councilman Peter Gilbert, one of the leaders of the effort to establish the Senior Center, said the lunch program is raising awareness for the new space. “The meals are the bait. Then (a senior) can sit down next to someone, and maybe find they have something in common, and start talking,” Gilbert said.

 

A center tour was provided to the Rotary Club Jan. 3. The club is one of a handful of area groups and organizations that have assisted in the renovation project the past few years.

 

“I’m thrilled with the space, because I saw it before the renovation,” said Rotary Club member Harriet Garland. “It is now very warm and very versatile. It can transition from meals to recreation activities very easily.”

 

Once lunch attendance reaches an average of 20 to 25, Gilbert said, the center will begin offering recreation activities. “Maybe we will build a small library. Maybe people will want classes to help them improve their computer skills,” Gilbert said.

 

The range and type of activities will be determined by requests and needs from those who use the center. “We don’t want to decide those things for anybody,” Gilbert said.

 

The Seniors First Cafe program is offered in six other South Placer County cities, including four in Roseville, one in Rocklin and one in Auburn. The cafes served approximately 24,500 meals to seniors during the 2017/2018 fiscal year.

 

Seniors First provided a similar program at the Lincoln United Methodist Church, beginning in 2012 before moving to the current Senior Center when renovations were completed last fall. “It really was a dream for a lot of people and it has come true,” Gilbert said. “Now our job is to fill the place up.”

 

Menus for each day, decided in advance for the month, are available at the Lincoln Senior Center or by calling 530-878-5718. Main dishes to be served this month include pork loin with rice and vegetables, herbed baked chicken with potatoes and carrots, and lemon baked fish with tater tots and broccoli. Seniors First serves lunch at the center between 11:30 a.m. and 12 p.m., with a closing time of 1 p.m.

 

Interested attendees can make a reservation 24 hours in advance by calling 530- 878-5718. The center is at 391 H St., and its grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony is slated for Feb. 20. To sign up for a newsletter, go to lincolnseniorcenter.org.