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Socialize, Exercise At Meal Site
Local Seniors
Sandy Rigg, left, and Judy Rigby work together to get the dessert ready for serving to diners recently at the Escalon Senior Meal Site. The sweet treat of sherbet and cookies was donated by one of the diners. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times

Two days a week, local senior citizens can gather for a good meal, conversation and occasionally a special activity or two, as part of the Senior Meals program.

Offered Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 a.m. at the Escalon Community Center, the seniors have their own dining room in the center and many come to eat after they have attended the senior exercise program, which is offered from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Senior meals local coordinator Sandy Rigg said they have been averaging around a dozen diners and sometimes get more. They want to make sure they can feed all that attend, so reservations are required two days in advance.

“They allow 14 (meals),” she said of the county program that oversees the senior nutrition program, dictating how many meals get sent to Escalon. “We’ve requested more, hopefully we can get that.”

Especially as the weather turns cooler, more people might be inclined to come out for the twice weekly meals at the center and the need for more meals is likely to increase. A recent Thursday saw them dining on riblets, baked beans, spinach and rolls, with one of the ‘regular’ diners also bringing in some sherbet and cookies for a cool, sweet treat for dessert.

Menus vary, with a variety of meats, vegetables, grains and fruits offered, each designed to help seniors meet dietary needs.

“We come to the exercise class so we stay,” said Mary Herrero, a longtime diner. “We just enjoy our table full of people and conversation.”

“Probably the company,” added Walt Rivinius of what he enjoys the most. “But the food is great, too.”

While many go to exercise first, then come eat, Clyde Carlile said he was one of the ‘lazy’ ones.

“I just eat,” he said, chuckling. “Overall, they’re pretty good meals and you can’t beat the price or the company.”

Ed King has been coming on a regular basis for about eight months and has enjoyed the lunches as well. Mary Rangel and her mother-in-law, 87-year-old Josefina Sanchez, regularly attend and Rangel said the exercise is good for both of them, while the meals are also tasty.

The program is good for socialization for the seniors, with a lending library available, sometimes special programs put on, from computer assistance to identity theft protection programs.

Diners were generally in agreement that the food is a good way to help make ends meet on a tight budget. It is only offered twice a week at the senior meal site but shut-ins and ill seniors can get meals on wheels delivered, which provides five meals for the week.

Rigby said the five meals are frozen, but can easily be microwaved and are delivered on Tuesdays.

More information on the senior meals program is available by calling 462-5767.