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Lunch resumes at Central Point senior center

Nutrition Manager Jamie Maviglia sets out flowers in preparation for the resumption of in-person lunches at the Central Point Senior Resource Center. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
Range of activities coming to center

In-person lunches for senior citizens are starting up again Monday at the renovated Central Point Senior Resource Center.

The kickoff meal is chicken and herbs with gravy, oven-roasted potatoes, green peas and carrots, rye bran rolls and chocolate cake, for a suggested donation of $2.75. No one will be turned away for inability to pay.

Seniors 60 and older and their spouses are eligible for the lunches, which will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the center, located at 123 N. Second St. in Central Point. Doors open at 11 a.m.

Carrying out maintenance and repairs on the senior center took longer than expected, pushing the expected reopening from spring into August, said Rogue Valley Council of Governments Executive Director Ann Marie Alfrey.

RVCOG bought the senior center in hopes of partnering with the nonprofit Central Point Area Senior Citizens, which had provided meals, activities and a thrift store in the building for decades. The nonprofit dissolved and stopped offering meals in March, although volunteers are still running the thrift store.

RVCOG provides home-delivered meals through its Meals on Wheels program and wanted to expand into in-person lunches in Central Point by using the senior center building. It offers in-person group lunches in a dozen communities in Jackson and Josephine counties, in addition to meal delivery service, Alfrey said.

Central Point City Manager Chris Clayton said RVCOG worked hard to maintain some components of the previous senior center, including allowing volunteers to run the thrift store and organize some of their own activities.

Clayton said the city’s parks and recreation department will also provide some recreation programs.

“It’s a change for the seniors who have gone there for a long time, we definitely understand, but it’s going to be a very good thing for the city and our seniors in the long run. From a social aspect, certainly the congregate meal site is important, but we wanted those recreational programs in place, too,” he said.

RVCOG headquarters are located near the senior center. The agency put the Central Point Grange Hall to use for home-delivered meal operations, but the building wasn’t adequate for in-person senior lunches.

“Ultimately the decision (for RVCOG to run the facility) was about making sure that the senior nutrition program and senior and disability services are extended indefinitely in the city of Central Point,” Clayton said. “Given that they already provide that in the city and around the region, it made a lot of sense to have them running the meal site that was located right across the street from their other offices.”

Alfrey of RVCOG said she hopes senior citizens will welcome the new lunch operations and social activities at the Resource Center. She said seniors have been through a lot over the past few years.

“Our senior demographic was hit really hard by the social isolation of the pandemic,” she said. “We’re hopeful it will be well-received and well-attended. It has the ability to make a huge impact. It’s an opportunity to have a meal and social interaction — which is sorely needed these days.”

Alfrey said RVCOG saw an increase in social isolation and depression in seniors during the pandemic. That can have an impact on people’s health, as well as their social well-being.

Meals at the senior center will meet federal nutrition standards, with low sodium and diabetic options.

Lunches at the center used to cost $6, rather than the new price of a suggested $2.75 donation. The Central Point Area Senior Citizens financed the lunches through thrift store sales, donations and $20 annual memberships from its 100-plus members.

With the thrift store still being run by volunteers, Alfrey said she hopes the resumption of in-person lunches will bring more customers to the shop.

The thrift store is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Proceeds benefits senior center programs and activities.

RVCOG’s funding sources for the lunches include money through the federal Older Americans Act, local jurisdictions and fundraising.

Clubs like the Central Point Woodcarvers and Rogue Eagles Radio Control Club are continuing to use the senior center for their meetings.

More recreational and educational activities are being planned for the afternoons to follow the daily lunches.

The first activity is an AARP Smart Driver course from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 15-16. To register, call 541-423-1012 or visit bit.ly/3aKKTZD.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Reach Mail Tribune reporter Buffy Pollock at 541-776-8784 or bpollock@rosebudmedia.com.