CHEK Upside: James Bay community dinners connecting seniors during pandemic

CHEK Upside: James Bay community dinners connecting seniors during pandemic
WatchJames Bay Community School Centre's senior dinners are allowing seniors to get out into the community while providing home cooked meals.

The James Bay Community Centre’s senior dinners have been a staple for years.

But when COVID-19 began, the program had to change.

“It’s been lots of sort of changing things up but we’re so excited that we’re able to have a take-out service for our seniors,” says the centre’s coordinator, Tracey Gibson.

They’ve gone from serving dinner once a week to three times a week, with one night reserved for residents of all ages to enjoy the meal of the week.

“Last week we had a dinner for 100 people, [who] either had it delivered to their homes or were picking up from the community centre,” says volunteer coordinator Susan Trail. “We couldn’t have done that in one day last year.”

The dinners are providing more than just a nutritious meal. They allow for James Bay’s senior population to safely interact with members of the community.

“It is about getting out of your place when sometimes with a pandemic they’re not feeling safe to maybe get out,” says Gibson.

“Sometimes we are the only person that they’re speaking to outside of the telephone. We have a heart, we love our community and having them come here to have that moment with us is really great and we’re filling their bellies with really great food,” adds Trail with a smile.

It’s the smiling faces under the masks that keep the program volunteers and seniors coming back.

“They’re so happy to be back seeing their friends and having a chit chat from six feet away of course,” says longtime volunteer Lori Stocks.

“I first brought my mum in 1990,” says Kathy Campbell, who picked up several dinners for other seniors unable to leave their homes. “The volunteers, they’ve always been there for us, they’re always here with a smile.”

To order a dinner or volunteer your service head to the James Bay Community School Centre website.

Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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