Senior congregate meals at Lumberjacks?

The article on page 4 of High County Life (January 2023) states, Lassen County seniors can take advantage of the new ‘Dine Around Town’ meal program where they can currently get meals at Lumberjacks. While this may provide some assistance to mobile seniors, it’s not an innovative idea or in the best interests of serving all our senior citizens, especially those homebound couples and individuals.

For many years Lassen Senior Services had provided home-delivered meals through PSA2 funding. The Lassen News reported in a Jan, 16 article: “About 18 months ago, Lassen Senior Services, a local nonprofit that has provided the service to about 110 homebound senior citizens for many years as well as lunches for seniors at the Lassen Senior Center, and the Planning and Service Area 2 Area Agency on Aging, the governmental agency that oversees and provides funding for similar programs in Lassen, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou and Trinity counties, encountered some disagreements and terminated their financial relationship. During that year and a half, Lassen Family Services has provided meals to the senior citizens without any funding from PSA 2 with money raised at local fundraisers.”

A supervisor from each county represented sits on the PSA2 board and makes decisions about funding for services in counties served. In Lassen County, Gary Bridges is shown as a board member (psa2.org/executive-board). Essentially the counties determine how the funds are distributed and spent in their respective counties.

Why am I questioning senior congregate meals at a local restaurant. Firstly, a definition of congregate meals is in order.

Congregate setting means a social event where meals are served to qualifying clients. The congregate setting promotes health and independence through social contact, meaningful involvement, nutrition, community connection and access to information and services. The congregate setting is designed to provide a welcoming and pleasant atmosphere where people age 60 and older (and their spouses) can gather for a meal. Seniors can enjoy meeting new people, form friendships and support groups by coming together for meals on a regular basis. The balanced meal and the social contact together provide a positive motivation for self-care for seniors who often eat poorly on their own and can become lonely and depressed in isolation. The nutrition program is more than just a meal- it’s purpose is to nourish the whole person (lawinsider.com/dictionary/congregate-setting).

Public restaurants do support small groups of individuals for short periods of time, however, extended families who visit restaurants for a meal often have difficulty finding a large table or booth. The larger dining area at the Senior Center with its long tables, reminiscent of old-style community dinning, is more suitable to congregate dinning and promoting a larger sense of community.

It is not just about the food. A Senior Center nourishes the whole person by providing a welcoming homelike atmosphere with fun and educational activities and a wealth of information relevant to senior needs. Dedicated and caring volunteers and staff, often seniors themselves, provide warmth, company and useful information.

While I don’t know what transpired between the Senior Center and the county, my experience with Lassen Senior Services has been positive. The Senior Center is important to our community. Are there any community members who. can help the county and the Senior Center resolve their differences? I’m willing to listen. Community members who have idea, give me a call 310-3303.