More then nutrition, senior meals provide social fun

Published on Thu, Feb 28, 2008 by Jack Kintner

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More then nutrition, senior meals provide social fun

By Jack Kintner

Francis Jordan pulled out a stool in her kitchen and sat down at one of the big stainless tables she uses to prepare 50 lunches a day at the Blaine Senior Center, a job she’s held for the past five and a half years.

“I really like the people here,” said the former owner of a minimart in her Columbia River Valley hometown of Granger, Washington, near Yakima. A Blaine resident for the last 11 years with her husband Jack, a car salesman at the Guide Auto-Plex, Jordan prepares meals for seniors Monday through Friday at the Blaine facility at 763 G Street.

“Her meals are the glue that makes this place work,” said a grateful Barbara Fischer, center coordinator. “She makes such a great difference here, often going above and beyond the call of duty.”

Pam Relay, nutrition director for the Whatcom County Council on Aging, said that the senior meals programs she administers are primarily designed to provide good meals for seniors.

“The socialization aspect is important, because no matter how nutritious a meal may be, if they don’t eat it, it won’t do any good,” Relay said, adding that the cost of the $900,000 annual program is borne one-third by federal grants, one-third by fundraising and one third by fees charged per meal at the centers. Meals are provided at 15 locations, including Blaine, plus home deliveries.

“The meals cost about five dollars each to produce, so we ask for a donation of between three and five dollars per meal,” Relay said, “but the average donation is about only about $2.23.”

At Blaine the center charges non-members (who must be 50 and over) the $5 cost but Relay said the grant does not allow them to charge their target audience, single seniors 75 and over who may not eat well at home.

“But you provide a place where they can come and be with friends and they’ll enjoy it,” Fischer said, “especially when we have a great cook like Francis.”

The eight senior centers around the county are staffed and programmed by an interlocking bureaucracy of county and local entities; in Blaine, the city owned building is run by a coordinator, Fischer, who is paid for by the Whatcom County Parks, but Jordan is employed by the Whatcom County Council on Aging.

Jordan said that her day runs from 7 a.m. until about 2 p.m. She does all the ordering for a week at a time according to a menu planned by Relay’s office, and does all the preparation herself. Wednesday through Friday an assistant comes in to help.Each meal is balanced and includes coffee, tea and milk.

Meals are served Monday through Friday beginning at 11:30 with a salad bar. Hot food is available at noon. Family members must pay $5 if under 50 or if they are not members. Call 332-8040.