Senior centers continue lunch programs as go-to resource to stay fed
Doug Ramsay photo
Monroe Community Senior Center volunteer Kim Borup places slices of meat on sandwiches during preparation of the meals earlier this month.
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — The pandemic has had an impact on just about every social demographic.
For seniors, facilities such as the Snohomish and Monroe senior centers are aiming to make this challenging time easier to bear.
The Snohomish Senior Center and the Monroe Community Senior Center have continued their lunch programs, which are available every weekday for pick-up.
In Snohomish, lunches are free for members and are distributed by drive-thru, starting at noon, Monday through Friday. Members are asked to call the senior center a week in advance to reserve the days they want a free lunch provided. This ensures the center has enough food, and nothing goes to waste. The lunch menu usually consists of a warm meal and is updated every week.
According to Sharon Burlison, the director of the Snohomish Senior Center, the main meal of the day for seniors is lunch, especially at the center. “It’s a pretty awesome sight at noon here at the center,” Burlison said.
The Monroe Community Senior Center has continued its lunch program as well, following a March closure due to COVID-19. A free sack-lunch is available for members, Monday thru Friday, from 12 to 12:30 p.m. Unlike Snohomish, it is not required to be a member to receive a lunch but non-members are encouraged to give a donation of a few dollars.
Jacob McGee, the director of the Monroe Community Senior Center said closing their doors entirely would have definitely been the easier route, “but that’s not what we’re about, we want to serve.”
Candace Ranz, the programs manger for Monroe’s center, added that the lunches could be distributed safely and in a way where it was still serving their community and members.
About 30 lunches a day are made at the Monroe Community Senior Center, consisting of an entree like a sandwich, wrap, or soup accompanied with chips, an apple, and a cookie. Three days a week, Kim Borup volunteers her time to make the lunches. With a background in catering, Borup loves working with food and enjoys helping the community where she can.
“I love doing it,” Borup said as she single-handedly conducted a sandwich assembly line. “It feels good to provide a service.”
When the dangers of COVID-19 began to arise, community senior centers were the first businesses to halt operations. Because the most vulnerable demographic to COVID-19 are seniors, many centers have been closed for months, with no real timeline for return. The Carl Gipson Senior Center in Everett closed its doors and even eliminated city funding, however a nonprofit called Homage still serves lunch each weekday near the center’s front door.
Since beginning the drive-thru lunch program in March, the Snohomish Senior Center has looked for more ways to help their members get through the year.
Burlison said the center has been looking for various ways to increase social interaction for members but utilizing technology such as Zoom does not seem to be of interest to many seniors.
“They’re more interested in getting back in (the center) and getting out of isolation and socializing together,” Burlison said. “They want to play their cards, they want to play bingo and those are just some of the things that we can’t bring to them.”
Social interaction is a human instinct and in times of uncertainty, such as these, interacting with one another can boost a person’s morale.
Monroe Senior Center has been making calls to members to check-in to just see how people are doing, and if there is anything the
center can do.
McGee said that different staff and board members have been routinely making 750 calls a week to connect with members.
Arrangements can be made to have lunches delivered to members by contacting the senior center. More information about COVID-19 appropriate events or activities can be found at www.snohomishseniorcenter.org, www.mcsc.org, or senior center newsletters.
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