The Seymour Senior Meal Site has a new name with hopes of attracting more residents age 60 or older for free daily hot meals, fun and fellowship and other services.
Now called The Gathering Place Cafe, the site is located downtown in the Seymour Community Center at 107 S. Chestnut St. Other Gathering Place Cafe sites are at the senior citizen centers in Brownstown and Crothersville.
“We decided to change our name so it’s more welcoming and so people want to come here and eat and enjoy being with others,” said Carol Gee, senior meal site director. “Just like it says in the name, we want people to gather here.”
Story continues below gallery
The Gathering Place Cafe serves lunch every day during the week at 11:30 a.m. to anyone age 60 or older. Spouses under the age of 60 also are eligible to eat. There is no cost, but donations in any amount are accepted to help cover the cost of the meals.
Currently, meals are coming from a catering service in Lafayette. They are delivered frozen and cooked by Gee and her staff. Each meal meets strict nutritional guidelines for sodium, calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein and sugar.
Menus are available at the center to let seniors know ahead of time what will be served. Changes are being made, however, to allow seniors more food options from which to choose, said Abby Garcia, wellness and nutrition manager with Thrive Alliance.
“The aging population is very important, and we wanted to come up with a fresh look and name and services for our seniors, reminding the community who we are,” Garcia said.
The meal sites are operated through Thrive Alliance, an organization providing a host of services to older and disabled residents in Jackson County and surrounding communities. Those services include nutrition, care management, wellness programs, guardianship, caregiver programs and legal advice.
“Right now, we’re serving eight to 10 people on a regular basis, but the daily number fluctuates,” Garcia said of the meal site. “We’re looking in how to serve more people and always looking for how to improve.”
Transportation is available to the senior center through the Seymour Parks and Recreation Department bus for a small fee.
“We know there are more seniors out there that could benefit from coming here,” Garcia said. “And we want to be able to adapt to what they need, not tell them what they need.”
Other than donations, Thrive Alliance is a grant-funded program receiving federal and state dollars.
“We also rely on fundraising and sponsorships,” Garcia said.
Before and after lunch, seniors can engage in a variety of activities at the center, such as playing cards, doing puzzles, watching television or playing other games, including bingo, bean-bag toss and Wii bowling.
“Even though the meals and nutrition are a big part of it, The Gathering Place Cafe is a way to provide seniors social engagement so that they don’t feel so alone and isolated,” Garcia said.
An afternoon open house was conducted Aug. 2 to make more people aware of the Seymour location. Open houses for the other sites will be conducted in the future.
Garcia said the aging population in the area is large and growing and consists of many of the communities’ most vulnerable residents.
“There are many services through Thrive Alliance, and most have been provided here for a long time,” Gee said. “But people aren’t always aware of what services are out there.”
Thrive Alliance is a combination of two agencies, Aging and Community Services of South Central Indiana and Housing Partnerships Inc., which have served Bartholomew, Brown, Decatur, Jackson and Jennings counties for the past 35 years.
“It’s really important that the community knows that we are here and what we have to offer,” Garcia said.
Staff is available at the center to connect seniors and the disabled with needed resources to keep them independent and living in their own homes, she said.
“We have care managers right here serving Jackson County with home-delivered meals, attendant care and homemaker services,” she said. “We try to get services to them in their own home so their quality of life is improved.”