For Fran Bott, the best part of the Old Forge’s luncheon program for seniors is not actually the food, but the friends she has made there. Fran is a regular; she’s been coming to the luncheon program every two weeks since 2005, and likes everything about it – the food, the entertainment, and especially the people she has gotten to know. The weekly luncheon is a popular program at the Old Forge Community Resource Centre on Carling Ave. Every Wednesday for over 20 years, 10-20 seniors have gathered for a hot lunch, followed by entertainment – a musical performer, perhaps a guest speaker, or occasionally, a good game of bingo.
Vanessa Jackson, Day Program Manager at Old Forge, feels that the program is a great way for seniors, who may be socially isolated, to get together with their peers. And how better to get to know someone than over a delicious hot meal? The nutritious lunches offered by the program are catered by Ottawa’s Timesaver Foods, specializing in low-sodium meals prepared with fresh healthy ingredients. According to not only Fran but all the guests we spoke to, the meal is always enjoyable, with lasagna the agreed-upon favourite! Guests at the Old Forge luncheon program seem to be in accord with Canada’s new Food Guide that healthy eating is not just what you eat, but how you eat. The Food Guide emphasizes the importance of eating with others, particularly for seniors, who often tend to eat alone, resulting in a sense of isolation which affects how much and how nutritiously they eat.
Anita, another luncheon program regular, agrees that socialization is paramount. A self-described “people person”, Anita comes every week to talk to friends and learn new things. Long-time regulars Ed Blakeney and his wife Lois Frasier-Blakeney concur that they don’t come just for the meal. It’s fun to get out and meet other people, and they both like the variety of entertainment offered. Travelogues and speakers on different topics keep them interested. A recent favourite was a talk on parrot rehabilitation, accompanied by several parrots. Ed and Lois are enthusiastic participants in many Old Forge programs, and appreciate learning about other community services through the Old Forge.
Vanessa hopes that the luncheon gives seniors like Ed and Lois the opportunity not only to get together with their peers over a hot meal, but also to form connections within the community and become aware of the many community resources on offer. A Day Program, recreational and craft sessions, and annual tax clinics are just some of the community support programs available at Olde Forge. Their information and referral service widens the circle by linking seniors with other services in the community at large. More than just a meal, Olde Forge’s Luncheon Program is part of a wholistic approach to healthy living for seniors. More importantly, it’s fun for all!
- Photographs: Courtesy of Vanessa Jackson, Olde Forge