The following was written by Christine Bland-Kapp, one of our most loyal volunteers on the “60+ Lunch Out” community meal.
After a year and a half of hosting the 60+ lunches every week the volunteers at the Local have observed some very positive outcomes.
Over 60s that attend represent almost all socio-economic groups in Stratford and the people who come represent a wide-range of abilities and disabilities.
Many of those who attend regularly have good memories of food and have skills in preparing and serving good meals and all who attend come for various reasons.
Some say they find it just too much work to cook and serve a nutritious meal when they will have to eat alone. For this group one of the most appreciated parts of the program is the chance to socialize while having a meal. New friendships have flourished – the shy first-timer is invited to join a table and soon is saving seats for the new friends made and discussion is lively as the meal is enjoyed.
It is a demographic fact that many older singles are women who have been widowed. Some women who were strangers to each other before attending the lunches have now formed a support group to assist each other through the challenges of new and long-term widowhood. A major life adjustment that many will face is made more bearable through the support and compassion of their peers.
For those who still have a partner it may be that after cooking all their lives, often for one, then two and then a family and back to two again they want a break from the work some days! It is interesting to see how often these couples become the “anchor” at a table with new friends rounding out what resembles a family dining experience.
It has also been interesting to observe how the different socio-economic groups and those with different abilities have broken down the artificial barriers between people that sometimes are erected by our unconscious expectations. It has been observed that those with developmental or cognitive issues are no longer regarded by others as “different”. Physical limitations are respected and accommodated with no fuss. The comfort level in interaction has changed with the more able or economically viable no longer feeling “afraid” to say or do the wrong thing.
Those who attend the lunches enjoy so many of the aspects of this weekly program – the food, the social interaction and the various speakers who introduce new information and “heads up” of specific interest to the age group.
And the lunches have provided volunteer opportunities for some who first attended as participants in the lunch and enjoyed it so much they decided they wanted to be more involved and part of the cooking, serving or clean up team.
What the 60+ group seems to appreciate the most is that younger people are practising what they were taught – that good food does not have to be expensive to be nutritious and delicious, and that a warm, friendly atmosphere, at a table where all the seats are taken, is the best way to enjoy lunch.
Thanks to Christine for sharing her observations about this popular meal program. Lunch is served at 11:30am every Wednesday and followed by a presentation or entertainment session.The 60+ Lunch Out is free of charge however donations are accepted.