The number of senior citizens 60 years of age and older attending the senior meal sites in Enterprise and Wallowa has dropped slightly in recent months and the reasons are multiple.
Many more active seniors are "snow birds" who go to warmer climates for the winter months, says Community Connection's Wallowa County Manager Carolyn Pfeaster. Other seniors move elsewhere to spend the colder months with their children, while still others are getting older and taking advantage of the Meals On Wheels program instead of attending the meal sites. The same is true of other seniors who are moving into the Alpine House or into foster homes.
But possibly the biggest reason is that the seniors are "a meat and potatoes crowd" who attend when the pre-published menu items are to their liking and do not attend when they are not. Pfeaster says that attendance when chicken fried steak is served will draw 100 seniors to the Enterprise site, while a soup and sandwich meal will draw 45.
Last week the Rotary sponsored an early Thanksgiving dinner and 134 meals were served.
The key to the better food days at the Communication Connection senior meal sites in Enterprise and Wallowa is sponsored meals. An estimated 100 businesses, organizations and individuals step up during the course of a year to supplement, or sponsor, a meal with donations ranging from $75 to $125. Many, including the Wallowa County Soroptimist Club which sponsors one meal per month, sponsor meals more than one time during a year.
The cash donations ennable Community Connection cooks to upgrade the menu for both meal sites and the Meals On Wheels program which now serves an additional 50 homes.
Lunches at both sites are served each Monday, Wednesday and Friday with an estimated eight to nine sponsors contributing to the program every month. "Ideally," says Pfeaster, "We would have a sponsor every meal day."
The number of sponsors was down in October, said Pfeaster, so some four senior citizens themselves stepped up to sponsor November meals. Not uncommon is for seniors to sponsor a meal in memory of another senior who has passed away.
The purpose of the meals program is to provide a social atmosphere for the seniors as well as a place to eat. On a regular basis seniors stay after the meal to play pinochle, quilt and do crafts.
Another senior program taking place monthly at the Enterprise Community Connection site is the Wallowa County branch of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). Their Christmas potluck will be held Dec. 10 with a guest appearance of the Enterprise High School choir. The installation of officers will be part of the program.