STEP’s Senior Services program is accepting new participants for its congregate (group) meals in several Patrick County communities.
Meals and programs are offered to senior citizens who are at least 60 years old in Ararat, Meadows of Dan, and Stuart. There is no charge, but donations help keep the program running.
Congregate meals are part of STEP’s (Solutions That Empower People) outreach to keep senior citizens healthy and socially engaged. According to Meals on Wheels America, which helps underwrite the senior services program, a large number of seniors are threatened by isolation and hunger.
In Virginia, nearly 400,000 seniors live alone, almost 200,000 are food-deprived, and more than 350,000 live in or near poverty.
“We can’t ignore the fact that our elderly friends and neighbors have unmet needs,” said Doris Fain, the agency’s Senior Services director. “We welcome those who want to join us for a nutritious meal, some social interaction, and interesting programs.”
In Ararat, congregate meals are offered at Ararat Fellowship Church on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m. The Meadows of Dan congregate participants meet in the community building every Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and in Stuart the program is offered in the STEP office on Wayside Road on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m.
All meals for the three sites are prepared in STEP’s kitchens. Programs cover topics relevant to seniors such as health issues (blood pressure, skin cancer, nutrition), exercise, fire safety, and positive attitudes. Fun activities are also scheduled and include ice cream socials, games, and movies.
To participate, seniors need only to come to the congregate site when the meal is offered and sign up.
Transportation to the group meals, to and from medical appointments, and periodic shopping trips is also provided to seniors in STEP’s vans. This service is also offered for donations but must be arranged in advance.
STEP also provides home-delivered meals to home-bound seniors who are referred by the Southern Area Agency on Aging (SAAA). Depending on where the seniors live, they may receive hot, prepared meals or bagged groceries. The meals also are prepared in STEP’s kitchen and delivered by staff and volunteers.
Although the agency’s senior services receive funding from the Southern Area Agency on Aging, Meals on Wheels America, and Patrick County, the agency is always searching for ways to increase services, and the seniors programs rely heavily on volunteers and donations, according to Fain.
For more information, call Fain at 694-2239.