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Local Senior Lunch Program Working To Feed Citizens
Senior lunch program volunteer Ginger Borba delivers food with a smile to participant Anice Beary, who came to the ‘drive thru’ distribution at the Escalon Community Center on Thursday, March 19. Marg Jackson/The Times

While gatherings have been limited and facilities have basically shut down, the Escalon Senior Meals Program is continuing its efforts to provide food to those most at risk, senior citizens.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has prompted the order for all non-essential personnel to stay home and off the streets to help contain the spread of the virus, has radically changed the local landscape.

The Escalon Senior Meals Program, typically hosted Tuesdays and Thursdays at the city’s Community Center, became a drive-thru for meals on Thursday, March 19. The Community Center itself has been shut down to outside events and Senior Meals Program Coordinator Karen Corey said they would also be changing the way they serve up the meals to senior citizens.

Locals were able to drive up to the Community Center this past Thursday and volunteers – wearing gloves – handed out the individually packaged meals.

On Tuesday, March 24, Corey said the effort would switch to residents receiving a five-day supply of meals in a pre-packed ‘Meals on Wheels’ box.

“Then, on March 31, the plan is to provide them with five meals with one box of the Meals on Wheels and seven meals through what they call shelf stable items, basically canned items that make up meals,” Corey explained.

Donations are accepted for the senior meals but are suggested only; there is no requirement to pay for the meals.

Those driving through to pick up the meal on Thursday received the scheduled menu of Pasta Faggioli soup, Chicken Waldorf salad over leaf lettuce, a whole grain banana muffin, chilled peaches and milk.

Corey was uncertain what the Meals on Wheels boxes or the ‘shelf stable’ items would include but said all are designed to have items from the four basic food groups and meet basic dietary needs.

“I’m picking up just for myself,” said Anice Beary, as she drove through on Thursday. “The staff here is awesome, Karen and her crew; I’m blessed.”

Beary added she did miss the opportunity to socialize because part of attending the senior lunch program is to maintain that contact with other seniors, but agrees with the need to stay home and stay safe.

She also said she was able to make a grocery store run earlier in the week, getting needed supplies.

Also stopping by to pick up some food was Bill Hillman, who just took on the volunteer post of exercise coordinator for the seniors. Those classes, however, will have to wait until the pandemic has passed. Still, he is grateful for those that are working to make sure seniors are taken care of at this time.

“I really like what Karen is doing, I really appreciate it,” he said, adding that his daughter volunteered to take some of the Meals on Wheels and shelf stable items to shut-in seniors if necessary.

“I really see the value of this program and I was afraid we might lose it,” Hillman added, noting that he also won’t mind having the Meals on Wheels for the next couple of weeks. “I love frozen meals, I have no problems with that.”

Corey said they will wait to hear from program officials about what their next move will be after distributing the shelf stable and Meals on Wheels boxes on Tuesday, March 31.