Seniors gather for food, stay for family

EVART — Something more than food brought 23 seniors to the Evart Commission on Aging meal site. Between the clanking of plates there were many stories of grandkids and discussion of winter destinations.

“These are all my friends here,” said Larry Warren. “I know every one of em.”

The lunch held three days weekly invites those over the age of 60 to the Community Building at the Osceola 4H FFA Fairgrounds to fellowship over the day’s meal. Thursday the community of seniors enjoyed pork chops, potatoes, pasta and biscuits as they laughed and told stories between each bite.

“Have you eaten at that new restaurant in Hersey?”

“My goodness, these potatoes are delicious.”

“I’ll think of you when you’re in Texas.”

“What did you get your granddaughter for Christmas?”

Meal site manager Pat Glunt serves lunch with the help of two volunteers. The purpose is to create social opportunities along with providing nourishment.

“I really enjoy doing this.” Glunt said.

Sometimes she hosts bingo for “the gang” or decorates the tables if the lunch falls on a holiday. On St. Valentine’s Day she made hand-made paper boxes and filled them with chocolate for each senior.

“She really makes it fun for us,” said Trudy Gable, retired Evart local.

The meal site typically serves 16 to 18 adults each day, with extra on Thursday because of a woodcarvers meeting just before the lunch. Osceola County Commission on Aging Director Scott Schryer said the site would see more participation if it weren’t for mistaken impressions.

“One of the biggest issues that I’m hearing is some seniors don’t come because they think it’s charity,” Schryer said. “This is not charity. It’s a social activity.”

Though lunch starts at noon, many seniors come early to help Glunt set up and socialize. Sometimes they bring dessert or goodies to share with their friends at the meal site.

When Gable buys Christmas presents for her four children, 15 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren, she doesn’t forget her friends in her holiday shopping.

“I like to bring (gifts) here to use as bingo prizes.”

The meal site provides a menu a month in advance for seniors to know what to expect that day. Though liver and onions doesn’t always draw a crowd, the atmosphere of friendship brings them anyway.

Ron Sobczak said he prefers the stuffed chicken breast, but he and his wife Arlene frequent the meal site no matter what meat is being served.

“This beats cooking at home and it sure saves on the grocery bill,” Arlene Sobczak said.

Jim Michael, a regular attendee said when he and his wife moved to the area, the people at the meal site made him feel welcome.

“I’ve gotten to meet so many people here,” Michael said. “I hope it gets bigger so I can get to know more.”

Though many go south during the winter months they return in the summer to see their friends, who will check up on them if they are absent from the gathering.

“If somebody who signed up isn’t here, one of the other (seniors) will give them a call,” Glunt said.

Commission on Aging congregate meal sites are also located in Reed City at Meadowview Apartments and Tustin at Boomer’s Rendezvous. A site in Marion may be opened later this year, said Schryer.

The Commission on Aging is looking into developing a more expansive senior center in Osceola County as well.

Meals are served at the Reed City site on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 11:30 a.m., the Tustin site on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at noon, and the Evart site on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday at noon.

Meals cost $2 and seniors interested in attending can call the Osceola County Commission on Aging at (231) 734-5559.