Food, friendship; Semcac Senior Dining looks to increase attendance

Published 7:53 am Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Semcac Senior Dining program used to serve daily meals at the Mower County Senior Center. But since its relocation to American Legion Post 91, attendance has gone down according to a program official.  That is a trend that Senior Dining in Mower County site manager Dee Ann Peterson hopes to reverse.

“Before we moved, we served 35 on an average day,” she said. “That number would be well over 100 for special occasions like holidays.”

Now, Peterson says she’s lucky if she sees eight people in a day and 10 to 12 for special occasions.

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Peterson said that the move from the Mower County Senior Center to the American Legion is the main reason for the decline in numbers. The program moved to the American Legion almost three years ago for a variety of reasons; a move that upset many of the regular diners.

“Some of our regulars lived across the street or nearby the Senior Center and could just walk to lunch,” Peterson said. “Some of our regulars don’t drive, so they’re not willing to come to the Legion.”

Members of the program offered to provide free bus tickets to diners to encourage them to come to the meals, but many were not willing to wait for the bus route.

But Peterson believes there are other factors that affect attendance.

“I think some people aren’t aware we are still here,” she said. “The senior center serves food and some may think we’re still a part of that. Age is also a factor. We’ve lost some to aging, moving to assisted living and even death. But I think it’s because most are not aware we are still here.”

Semcac Senior Dining serves full meals at 11:30 a.m. daily and is not just open to seniors. Peterson said the program suggests a donation of $4 for individuals 60 and older, while the cost is $7 for those younger than 60. The meal is different every day and reservations are required by 12:30 p.m. one day in advance.

“It’s a very good deal price wise and a good balanced meal,” Peterson said.

Semcac Senior Dining also provides meals for residents of the Village Cooperative, Pickett Place Apartments and Twin Towers Apartments. Communal meals are served at Pickett Place Apartments in the event the American Legion is unavailable.

Peterson said the program does more than serve food at a good price.

“We provide meals in a congregate setting,” she said. “It’s for socialization just as much as nutrition.”

For more information about the Semcac Senior Dining program or to reserve a meal, call 507-459-9270.