Academy of the Holy Family shares meal, solidarity with seniors
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Sprague - posted Mon., Mar. 4, 2013
The Sprague Senior Center had a capacity crowd at its weekly Café Bistro luncheon when the entire student body of the Academy of the Holy Family, along with faculty and staff, made the two-block stroll to support the local Meals on Wheels program. It was a festive meal, with plenty of cheerful chatter among the girls and the senior citizen “regulars,” but AHF Principal Sister Loreto, SCMC, said that it also fulfilled one of the works of mercy: feeding the hungry.
Before the trip, teachers and students discussed in class how senior citizens on fixed incomes often depend on Meals on Wheels for a daily nutritious meal. “We told the girls what’s going on with the government [funding]” and how sometimes money is so tight that the elderly are reduced to eating dog food. “We asked them to imagine if that was your elderly friend or your grandmother,” she said. “It’s reaching out to the community we live in. I think they’re happy to do this.”
Timothy Grills, director of nutrition services for the Thames Valley Council for Community Action, said that cuts to statewide funding would have reduced the Meals on Wheels program from its current four days of deliveries to three. “Some seniors, the only people they see are the Meals on Wheels [delivery] people,” he said. It also would have meant cutting back from five to four the daily lunches served each week at the senior center.
The Café Bistro program was devised to fill the breach, said Sprague Senior Center Director Buddy Meadows. Unlike the Monday through Thursday meals, which are donation-only, the Friday meal has a set fee of $5, but is open to anyone.
Fees from the Friday meals “will fill that money hole and help us maintain what we’re doing,” said Grills. “The school caught wind of what was going on and said they wanted to help our seniors.”
Helen Cooper, a longtime volunteer at AHF, a Catholic high school for girls, said that she often sees elderly shoppers in the grocery store as they deliberate on what they can afford. “I see them looking at the price and putting it back, and I feel so bad,” she said. “I think that [coming here] has really impacted the girls.”
Zoe Robb, an AHF senior, said that each of the students paid the $5 lunch fee herself, and that Sister Loreto talked to the students about attending as a group on a regular basis to help out local seniors. “My dad is 73, so that really struck me,” she said.
Sister Loreto said that the school plans to visit Café Bistro monthly, and that its home economics students will contribute homemade desserts to the program to help further reduce the TVCCA’s costs.
Café Bistro lunches are served each Friday at 11:45 a.m. at the Sprague Senior Center. The meals cost $5 and are open to anyone of any age from any town, but reservations must be made the prior Monday by calling 860-822-3000, ext. 210. Take-out meals are also available.