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Lunch Served For Seniors
The senior meal program provided by the Howard Training Center (HTC) of Stanislaus County is served at the Riverbank Community Center, 3600 Santa Fe St., Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. The Center opens at 9 a.m. so seniors can gather to socialize and then lunch is served about 11:30 a.m., with the site staying open until 1 p.m.

On Thursdays in the morning, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. seniors enjoy playing bingo before they get served their lunch. The hot, nutritious, affordable meals can range from barbecued chicken to salisbury steak, or chicken parmesan and a salad, to name a few.

"I never miss a lunch, especially Thursdays when we play bingo," stated Josephine Gilpin, a regular attendee at the Riverbank location.

The Senior Meal Program is open to all adults 60 years or older. They do accept a suggested donation of $3 per meal but it is not required, so those in need can still get a nutritious lunch. Reservations can be made by calling (209) 303-1015 and should be made a day in advance. The program is made possible by funding from the Older Americans Act, the support of volunteers, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors and donations from the community. Any donation that they receive is used to provide more meals to the seniors.

"No one will be denied service due to not being able to contribute," stated Claudia Miller, executive director.

Kathy Roudebush is the site supervisor in Riverbank and greets every senior with a smile as they walk through the door. She has been working for the HTC for 20 years and has been helping with the Senior Meals Program for the past six years. She stated that she is only working part time but really enjoys working at the meal program.

"I have been trying to add more activities," said Roudebush. "They (senior citizens) really enjoy having a place to congregate."

Among setting up the tables and adding decorations to them, Roudebush also brings in music, magazines, and games for attendees to enjoy. Ramon Bermudez, a longtime volunteer, walked in recently with a record player that he had fixed for Roudebush. The music of choice at that day's luncheon was an album titled The Headliners.

Bermudez has been volunteering for the past two years. Sometimes he helps set up the tables and other times he assists with the clean up. You might also see him stacking tables and chairs at the end of the luncheon. Bermudez has been a resident in Riverbank for the past 20 years and said he likes to stay active in the community. At the lunch on Jan. 7, Bermudez made an announcement regarding some changes to Social Security, noting that he likes to share pertinent information with the other seniors at the luncheon. Roudebush also had a special announcement, presenting Bermudez with a Certificate of Appreciation for all his hard work and dedication to the program.

There are several seniors that participate in the program on a regular basis. Roudebush said the main goals are met, that they have food to eat and chance to socialize at the lunch.

Gilpin stated that the salisbury steak with gravy was her favorite meal and Bermudez said he enjoys the ambrosia fruit salad.

"Life is uncertain, so I do dessert first," added Bermudez with a smile.