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Fridays Feature Senior Brunch
Left, Silmia Thorn Sermeno, Central Valley Community Resources Board of Directors; Darlene Barber-Martinez, City Councilmember; and Ramon Bermudez, longtime volunteer helped serve local senior citizens gathered at the community center for a Friday brunch made by RHS culinary students. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Riverbank High School’s Bruin Bistro along with Central Valley Community Resources (CVCR) have collaborated to bring the senior citizens within the Riverbank community together for an extra day of socializing and are also providing a healthy brunch, prepared by the RHS Culinary students led by instructor Nena Sandoval.

Darlene Barber-Martinez, CEO of CVCR, has been volunteering with the seniors for several years, prior to becoming a Riverbank City Councilmember. Now that Barber-Martinez is involved with the council she has only been able to volunteer as time has allowed.

The idea to connect with the Bruin Bistro and offer the local seniors an additional day of brunch was conceived by Barber-Martinez one day as she thought about how much fun they have at the senior meal program lunch offered by the Howard Training Center (HTC) of Stanislaus County served three days a week on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at the city’s Community Center.

“The seniors have so much fun socializing and playing games like Bingo,” stated Barber-Martinez. “Studies have shown that socializing and fun activities promote a healthier lifestyle for seniors, actually for anyone.”

After checking with the seniors and having an overwhelming and appreciative response from them, Barber-Martinez decided to make it happen. Every Friday of the month volunteers will be serving the seniors lunch and call it “Senior Brunch Fridays.” The very first brunch was held on Friday, Jan. 17 from 10 a.m. until noon at the Community Center and will be there every Friday of the month with the exception of the first Friday, when they will be in the Teen Center right next door.

For the first brunch of the month the seniors were offered water, iced tea, coffee, tortellini soup, salad, and a turkey sandwich.

“This was one way to get the high school seniors involved in community service,” said Barber-Martinez. “They are very pleased to give back to our community through this project with community service.”

Barber-Martinez contacted Sandoval and visited the Culinary Arts class and explained the importance of the lunch for the seniors. They worked out the details and the students were excited for the opportunity.

“When Darlene told them the students were going to begin preparing lunch on Fridays they all started clapping,” expressed Sandoval of the reaction from local senior citizens.

Sandoval created the menu for the first Friday brunch. The ROP students will have an assigned week to prepare lunch for the seniors, which they will be responsible for helping plan and prepare.

“The recipes had to include these parameters, low fat, low cost, high in vitamins, and nutrients, include vegetables,” added Sandoval. “It is a great collaboration and wonderful opportunity for the students.”

The Bruin Bistro is open to staff and students on Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. until 10:10 a.m. in the cooking lab on RHS campus with a variety of selections.

“Our profits from the Bistro will support this endeavor to provide senior citizens an opportunity for a hot nourishing lunch,” stated Sandoval. “The senior citizens will donate $1 but their lunch will be provided regardless of their ability to pay.”

The brunch is provided to the seniors through donations by CVCR and the Bruin Bistro.

According to Barber-Martinez the first Senior Brunch Friday was a success. Silmia Thorn Sermeno, CVCR Board of Directors and longtime volunteer Ramon Bermudez were both on hand to help serve the meal to the seniors that participated in the Friday brunch.

“It was very good and everyone stated the food was really tasty,” said Barber-Martinez. “The students did an excellent job with the food preparation.

“The seniors enjoyed being together for another day to socialize, play games, and have a light lunch. This program is just one initiative to continue with our city’s Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) awareness.”

Volunteers are needed for the brunch on Friday.

To volunteer or for more information contact Central Valley Community Resources, 3218 Santa Fe, Suite B in Riverbank or call 209-312-3957.