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Senior Meal Pick Up At Community Center
Volunteers, from left, Lupe Aguilera, Wendy Fouts and Don Welch were among several on hand to help with the weekly drive-thru senior meals distribution on March 2, set up outside the Gene Bianchi Community Center on South Second Avenue. Marg Jackson/The Leader

The Oakdale Senior Center has partnered with the Area Agency on Aging to offer weekly “to-go” food for local senior citizens since last April. Once the Senior Center on East A Street closed due to the pandemic, the city could no longer offer daily hot lunches there. As a work-around, the Area Agency on Aging with Stanislaus County provides the food, and the city provides the location and volunteers to distribute.

The pick-up is done in a drive-thru fashion. Volunteers deliver the box to the seniors’ vehicles. Each box contains five frozen lunches (similar to TV dinners, but healthier), plus some additional treats such as juice, raisins, bread and butter, and the like to help round out the meal offerings. Distribution is done once a week, on Tuesdays.

When the COVID-19 vaccination clinic began at the Senior Center on Jan. 26, the city moved the pick-up location for food from the Senior Center to the Gene Bianchi Community Center at 110 S. Second Ave.

Seniors drive in to the parking lot/driveway of the Community Center from First Street and exit through the east end. Seniors were given three weeks’ notice of this change. Volunteers gather starting at 10:30 a.m. to get ready, preparing paperwork and making sure the lunch boxes are in order. Distribution continues through noon each Tuesday.

According to Jane Finkenbine, Oakdale Recreation Services Coordinator, the city is averaging about 100 boxes per week, given away free to local seniors.

Senior citizens may still register for the program by calling the Area Agency on Aging, Senior Info Line at 209-558-8698. For additional information, Finkenbine can be reached at 209-845-3566.

Applicants must be at least 60-years-old and an Oakdale resident to qualify for the local distribution. Registration is over the phone, but there is a short form to complete at first pick-up day. There is no cost, but donations are accepted.

Volunteers said they are pleased to see the program continuing and encourage even more seniors take advantage of the healthy meals giveaway.