Get it while it’s hot: Seniors enjoy daily lunch programs

Published 9:33 am Thursday, March 10, 2022

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By Stacey Southern

and Kim Shuskey

Davie Senior Services

What’s for lunch?

If you are 60 or older, lunch can be prepared for you each weekday at Davie County Senior Services. The Senior Lunchbox program or congregate lunch program is housed at Senior Services’ main campus on Meroney Street in Mocksville.

There is a daily activity or educational program at 10 a.m., followed by lunch at 11, with plenty of time to socialize.

In Davie County, the congregate lunch program was first implemented by YVEDDI at the Brock building. It came under the management of Davie Senior Services in 1997. Currently, there are approximately 50 people who eat lunch together each weekday. The lunch program is free to anyone 60 and older upon completion of simple paperwork, but you must reserve a meal at least by noon the day before you plan to eat (or by noon Friday if you plan to eat on Monday).

Every weekday a hot meal is offered, and Tuesday-Thursday, the client has a choice of a hot meal or chef salad. The meals are approved by a dietician, meet a third of the recommended daily allowance of nutrients, and are catered by On Time Catering out of Lexington.

This program is much more than just a meal.

Before lunch is served each day, there is an activity of some type. This may include trivia, bingo, an educational speaker, music, games, and more.

The congregate nutrition program is a vital part of the overall services at Senior Services and could not happen without the volunteers who give of their time.  They help serve the food, conduct the programs, and clean up after the meal is over.

Want to learn more about what volunteering with the lunch program looks like?  We sat down with several volunteers to chat about their experiences.

Sandi Winston has been a dedicated volunteer with the program for four years, spending multiple days per week giving an hour of her time to the congregate lunch program.

“I love volunteering,” said said, adding that her favorite part is the opportunity she has to “talk and joke with the clients.” She enjoys “helping others, especially those that need a shoulder to lean on.”

She said volunteering became her “life line” when she first moved to Davie County. She said that volunteering helped her meet new people with common interests. “Volunteering gives me a sense of worth, along with good fellowship at the center. It’s a good way to meet people and make new friends while doing something important.”

Azalee Stockton started attending Senior Services for other activities in 2019 and began volunteering with the lunch program shortly after. She usually volunteers two or more days per week.

She says volunteering “makes me feel good in knowing I have helped someone and put a smile on their face.” Her favorite part is “talking with the clients, especially the quiet ones once they start talking to you more and more” and “seeing the smiles on their faces.”

In her own life, Azalee says that volunteering helped her build new friendships and meet new people. : “I would encourage someone to become a volunteer because of the different clients you meet on a daily basis.” She says it is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who is “a people person.”

Hazel Dillard is another committed volunteer who has been with senior services since 2019. She volunteers at least twice a week, sometimes more.

“I feel wonderful volunteering. It makes me feel useful and helpful.” She enjoys talking with and listening to the clients. “I especially enjoy hearing them thanking me for my service, it makes me feel good.”

She loves to help others and volunteering with the congregate lunch program has given her that opportunity. Her favorite part is “listening to the people telling me about their lives.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity to help the elderly, listen and talk to them, and get to know the wonderful staff and other volunteers. It is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community.”

Paulette Loftin has been volunteering with the congregate lunch program twice a week for about a year. “I feel more confident in myself. I enjoy the smiles and the friendly attitudes of the people we serve meals to.

“It helps me to be able to get out more and be around people, and I enjoy the conversations I get to have with other people.” Paulette says that she loves how appreciative most people are, and she encourages anyone who is a “people person who loves listening and talking to others” to volunteer with the program.

One last word of advice:  “It’s worth it simply to see the smile on their faces.”

Lanna Pace heard by word of mouth that the center was in need of volunteers, and now she spends an hour on Mondays and Thursdays volunteering. Her favorite part is passing out the food.

“I am so happy to have the senior center where I can volunteer, it makes me feel good.” She looks at volunteering as a job. “I know that I have to report to the Senior Center to do my job. It makes me accountable, and I know that I have to get up and go somewhere. It’s awesome.”

Lanna encourages anyone interested in volunteering to do so. “If anything else, do it for you. It makes you feel good, lets you meet new people and make them smile, and they even make you smile.”

Debra Johnson has been volunteering for about three months, but she already loves it.

“I feel like I am contributing to my new community, and I enjoy the people mostly.” She volunteers for about two hours once a week, and her favorite part is “being able to see all the people who appreciate all the help they receive.”

Volunteering has allowed Debra to feel part of something bigger. “It has really kept me from feeling lonely.”

When asked about what she would tell others about volunteering, she shared: “I would tell them it’s a great place to volunteer, the people treat you with respect.”

These, and all the other amazing lunch volunteers, are greatly valued and appreciated by the staff and clients here at Davie County Senior Services. The congregate meal clients are loved, and their smiles and presence are an important highlight of daily life at Senior Services.

If you would like to learn more about the lunch program, make plans now to attend “50 Years of Nutrition: Celebrate, Innovate, Educate” on March 29. The celebration will start at 10 a.m. with fun activities, games and more, with lunch following at 11.  All ages are invited. Call 336-753-6230 to register. Join us in celebrating our seniors, our program, and our community. Together, we look forward to another 50 years and beyond!

Davie County Senior Services is joining the Administration for Community Living and senior nutrition programs across the country to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the national Senior Nutrition Program.  This article is the second in a five-part series that highlights the Nutrition program at Davie Senior Services.