Senior meals means good food, friends & fun

PLAYING BINGO FOR PRIZES — Following lunch, some women play bingo on Monday afternoon at the Casco Community Center. (De Busk Photo)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — Casco resident Ruth Berry has lunch with other senior citizens every Monday. 

“My husband died five years ago. I had to learn to cook by myself, cook for one. It’s hard to make only enough for me. Sometimes, my neighbor down the road — I give her things to eat,” Berry said. “When I make cupcakes and other desserts, I have two more neighbors who I give them to.”

“I come here ‘cause my daughter says it is good place for me,” Berry said.

Sue Marr, who has been a resident of Otisfield for the past four years, said her daughter and her son encourage her to go to the local senior meals program that is offered twice a week.

“I live alone so I only cook for myself. That’s a shame. I used to cook for a family. I lost my guy last fall,” she said.

“I was taught to eat right. My mom was a home economics teacher. So, I eat right and that’s why I am still pretty healthy,” she said.

She commented that the lunches served at the community center are well balanced with a salad and veggies, grains and meat. It’s not just the food but also the people that provide a reason for Marr to keep coming back.

“I like the company, too,” she said.

Libby Knight, of Casco, agrees wholeheartedly.

“I enjoy the bunch of girls,” Knight said, pausing, “Girls and boys. There’s a few boys who sit together.”

“I like to mingle” and not worry about cooking a meal, she said.

For senior citizens in the area, the Casco-Naples Senior Meals program offers a chance to get out of the house and shed worries about cooking for one. The seniors enjoy eating an inexpensive meal and visiting with longtime friends.

“The meal is $3. You couldn’t buy a salad for that price,” said Jim Miller who does the cooking.

The service is offered from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday and Thursday. Lunch is served at noon after the group says the Lord’s Prayer together. If the weather cancels classes at School Administrative District (SAD) 61, then the meal is cancelled too, Miller said.

“No school, no meal site — makes it easy to remember,” he said.

Most of the senior citizens arrive a good hour before food is served so that they can visit. About 25 to 30 people come regularly during the winter months and that number doubles to about 50 in the summer, organizers said. In November, the location moved from the Casco Fire Station to the smaller meeting room at the Casco Community Center.

The towns of Casco and Naples provide money to the program in their general assistance budgets.

On Monday, a small group of women comment on heart-shaped jewelry worn on the week of Valentine’s Day. Another woman removes a greeting card from her purse and hands it a lady who will celebrate her birthday this week.

The room is buzzing with conversation.

“We love it. They love socializing especially at this age. A lot of us are hearing-impaired. That is why it’s so loud,” Margo Miller said.

The residents are great at keeping the Millers posted on whether they will show up or not.

“We get calls at home. They say, ‘I can’t come or I am coming.’ That way we have enough food,” Margo said.

Jim shops at The Umbrella Factory Supermarket or B.J.’s Wholesale Club. Raymond Village Donuts donate pastries which are paired with coffee prior to the lunch.

The meal site creates a tightknit community and an information center. Casco Recreation Department Director Beth Latsey reminded the group about the date change for the upcoming Crooked River School vote.

Additionally, the Millers know if someone is struggling with groceries that week.

“We know who needs extra help and Jim send them home with some food,” Margo said.

The volunteer cooks, Jim Miller and Linda Allen, are greatly appreciated by the people who go to the senior meals site.

Naples resident Bob Hennick is one of the four men who were sitting together on Monday.

“I come here Monday and Thursday. I think the food is fantastic. The people who work here and do the cooking should really be congratulated. They should be awarded,” he said.

“I think this is wonderful,” Hennick said. “I live alone. Two days a week, you know, I get a nice hot meal, conversation and dessert. What else could you ask for?”

A $3 LUNCH is served for area seniors at the Casco Community Center every Monday and Thursday. Lunch starts at noon but most people arrive around 11 a.m. to visit. (De Busk Photo)
FAST FRIENDS Dorcas Sturtevant, of Harrison, and Libby Knight, of Casco, pose for the camera at the Casco Community Center on Monday. (De Busk Photo)
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