Mayor, councilors serve seniors at ‘March for Meals’ luncheon

Published 9:57 am Friday, March 24, 2017

Elected officials from the City of Franklin donned aprons and latex gloves on Thursday and served lunch to approximately 80 senior citizens during a “Community Champions” event hosted by Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia.

The meal was served at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center as part of Senior Services’ month-long “March for Meals” nationwide celebration of the Meals on Wheels program.

Servers from the City of Franklin included Mayor Frank Rabil, Councilwoman Mary Hilliard, Councilman Linwood Johnson and City Manager R. Randy Martin. Herb DeGroft, the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors’ representative to Senior Services, also attended as a server.

The meal of the day was pork barbecue with a side of baked beans. Senior Services prepares a different lunch at the MLK Center every day — usually minus the elected representatives as servers — along with social activities for about 40 regular senior attendees. For Thursday’s event, an additional 40-some seniors who regularly attend Senior Services’ Mary Wells Senior Center in Carrollton were transported to the MLK Center.

According to Shonya Anderson, the wellness administration supervisor for Senior Services, all meals are prepared in-house at the MLK Center and provide one third of the recommended daily nutrition for a senior. Meals are provided at no cost and Senior Services has no income requirements for participants, but they do encourage a voluntary monetary donation from those who are able to contribute one. All meals meet the nutritional guidelines set forth by the Older Americans Act and the Virginia Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services.

Anderson said the main goal of the meals is to ensure that seniors receive a nutritious meal and have the opportunity to socialize with their peers.

“As individuals get older, there is that concern with isolation,” she said, adding that many of the regulars she sees at these luncheons live alone.

“From this kitchen, we have two cooks; we also transport meals to the [Mary Wells] Center in Carrollton,” said Senior Services CEO John Skirven.

“The services that we provide to seniors in both the South Hampton Roads metro and in the Western Tidewater cities and counties are critical and the need is rapidly increasing,” he added. “Working together, we can keep our region’s seniors living independently, healthier at home and feeling more connected to their communities as they age.”

Senior Services has managed a nutrition program in Franklin since 1972, and some residents of the Franklin area have looked forward to participating for years.

“I’ve been coming for five to six years or more; [my aunt] has been coming for 22 years,” said Odessa Anderson, one of the senior attendees.

Robert Fodan said he used to watch Senior Services host these luncheons for years prior to attending himself for the first time about two years ago. He added that he especially enjoys when they serve hot dogs.

At the conclusion of the luncheon, Senior Services announced the winning raffle ticket for a gift basket of various health foods and other items, which went to JoAnn Williams.

March for Meals is in its 15th year, and was created not only to celebrate Meals on Wheels, but also to spotlight the issues of senior isolation and food insecurity in communities throughout the U.S.