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Safety, Fresh Food Focus Of Annual Senior Summit
Jennifer Bohos, left, receives her summit bag from volunteer Susan McCarthy along with her green bag full of fresh fruits and veggies. Bohos not only is a recipient taking part in the green bag program every month but she also volunteers to hand them out. Sarah Lawson/The Leader

Reaching dozens of area senior citizens, the Healthy Aging Association hosted its once-a-year Healthy Aging and Fall Prevention Summit recently in conjunction with the regularly scheduled green bag program at the Oakdale Senior Center.

Each month at the senior center, volunteers provide the green bag program that allows eligible seniors who are 60 years old or older, are disabled, or meet the income requirements the chance to receive a 10 pound bag of fruits and vegetables.

Once a year, the same organization joins forces with the green bag program to also host the summit during the same morning. Not only do the seniors receive the groceries, but with the summit they have the chance to get a number of useful items from local sponsors as well as flyers and informational packets about eating better, preventing falls, and medication management. Among the items provided this year were a variety of goods such as jar openers, pill boxes, masks, lens cleaner, hand sanitizer, vaccine card holders, and this year Kaiser Permanente donated three different types of vitamins just in time for the cold and flu season.

“I hope I can see donated items in the summit bags next year that the seniors maybe can’t afford on a regular basis or just things that are helpful to their daily lives,” Project Coordinator Jessica Enes expressed.

Enes goes to each location for the summit to help volunteers hand out the bags and make sure the project runs smoothly. The green bag program occurs from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and the summit offered the same day began at 11 a.m., running until noon.

Originally and for two decades, the summit was hosted at the Modesto Center Plaza where informational booths as well as blood pressure checks and diabetes screenings were offered. Then two years ago after COVID it turned into a drive thru summit and it has stayed that way to this day.

Seniors, meanwhile, can sign up for the regular green bag by calling the organization at 209-525-4670 and if approved, they will automatically be signed up to receive the summit bags at the next event as well.

Sign-ups are good for one fiscal year from July to June.

“I feel like since I also get a bag, volunteering too makes me feel like I am giving back as well,” green bag volunteer and recipient Jennifer Bohos explained. “I think this program helps seniors a great deal, it is really important.”

Green bag is offered the third Thursday of the month for both the Oakdale and the Riverbank locations starting at 11 a.m. until noon. Oakdale’s is hosted at the Gladys L. Lemmons Senior Center while Riverbank’s event is hosted at the Riverbank Community Center.

The program is also offered for seniors in Modesto, Patterson, Grayson and Ceres.

“We made a total of 3,000 bags to hand out at all the locations, Oakdale alone had about 200 bags,” Enes explained.

Volunteers are always needed; anyone interested in wanting to volunteer for the once-a-month program or the once-a-year event can find more information on the website, or by calling 209-252-4670.

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The group of volunteers show up to the senior center in Oakdale as early as 8 a.m. to begin unloading the groceries from the truck on the monthly ‘green bag’ day and sort them into hundreds of bags to hand out later in the afternoon. Sarah Lawson/The Leader