Groton on the Inside: Lunch is more than just food at Center Village Court

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When Groton resident Linda Tallman relocated here from Canandaigua with her husband, Chris, and their three children in 2001, she never dreamed that just five short years later she would find herself embarking on the career that, in her words, “is so gratifying and fulfilling when I see the service it provides to the community”, and she’s still doing it today – 13 years later.


Tallman is the congregate meals coordinator for the Foodnet Meals on Wheels program in Tompkins County, and Groton’s Center Village Court (CVC) at 200 W. South St, is one of the sites Tallman is responsible for, along with Titus Towers and the YMCA in Ithaca.


Foodnet Meals on Wheels provides nutritious meals and comprehensive nutrition services for older adults and others in need, and while many Groton residents may be aware that lunch is served at Center Village Court, you may find it eye-opening, as did I, that you do not need to reside there in order to have lunch.


Tallman explained that anyone in Tompkins County over the age of 60 is eligible to participate in any of Foodnet’s social dining sites and that the social aspect of the meal is a huge “drawing card” for many who come. She also said that spouses who are under the age of 60 are welcome to come along with their partner.


Groton and Titus Towers serve each weekday, but the YMCA lunch is only served on Thursdays. “That happens to be senior dollar day, though,” said Tallman. “Seniors pay just $1 to get in for the day and they can use any of the facilities all day long for that price.”


The food that is served is all prepared at Foodnet’s main facility at 2422 N. Triphammer Road in Lansing and sent out from there to the various sites. Every meal provides one to two-thirds of the recommended daily nutrients, and nutrition education is provided monthly by a registered dietician. They suggest a voluntary contribution of any amount up to $8 per meal, but no amount is too small and no one is denied service due to inability to contribute.


In Groton, the hot lunches are served in the community room at Center Village Court at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, with a light sandwich meal also available, and monthly workshops are also provided at no cost – usually prior to lunch being served.


Foodnet’s executive director, Jessica Gosa, proudly told me that Tallman is the spearhead behind all the workshops that are offered, and how invaluable they are for those who attend them. They have been able to partner with various other entities around the county to present things such as identity theft, community health advocates, cooking classes, container gardening, mental health awareness, and more.


Next month, at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 22, Tallman plans to partner with Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services (CARS) for a presentation on the current opioid crisis. Outreach Specialist, Brad Walworth, will help attendees gain a better understanding of opioid addiction and the effects it has on families. He will also touch on alcoholism and how CARS programs can help facilitate transformation from addiction.


A nutritious lunch and a great opportunity for older adults to socialize while consuming it sounds like a win-win to me, but I asked a few of the folks who were dining last week what they thought.


Florence Knapp told me she has been eating lunch at the Groton site almost every day for the past 15 years. She said “You get such a great variety of food, things I wouldn’t buy for myself like fish and vegetables. I just don’t cook anymore, so I really enjoy getting to have things I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I really enjoy the social aspect of coming here for lunch.”


While sitting in front of his laptop as he was waiting for lunchtime, George O’Neil said that he has been eating lunch there every day for over three years. “You get a good, well-balanced lunch, and get to talk to other people,” said O’Neil.


Michael Sherwood said he has only been living at CVC for about three weeks. He told me “I wasn’t eating well where I came from before, and that’s putting it mildly, and I was very lonely and isolated. Now it’s great to have good food and it’s great to socialize with people. I haven’t had a bad meal yet!”


Sherwood was also very proud of a project he took on to decorate the dining room for the Easter holiday – a dinosaur with bunny ears that was devouring a pile of marshmallow peeps. “I love dinosaurs and I hate peeps, so this is what came from that,” said Sherwood. He said it took him about 12 hours to construct.


I also spoke with Clara Bush, who has been the congregate meals site manager there for over 19 years. Bush almost single-handedly sets up the buffet table, checks all the food for health code compliance, serves, and cleans up afterward. She does have volunteers who assist with certain tasks, like helping to carry meals to less-ambulatory diners and deliver meals to residents who are not able to come to the dining room for any reason.


Volunteer opportunities are always available if you think helping serve meals or making home deliveries is something you would like to do, and volunteers get their lunch for free! If just eating lunch is more up your alley, and you are over 60, stop by Center Village Court between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. to fill out a registration form, or call the Foodnet main office at (607) 266-9553 or email info@foodnet.org.

Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, lmc10@cornell.edu or 607-227-4922.

In brief:

Farewell to pancakes
The McLean fire station will host its final monthly breakfast buffet from 8 to 11 a.m. Sunday, April 28. There will not be another until September.


On the menu will be regular, chocolate chip, and blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup, French toast, scrambled eggs, home-fried potatoes, sausage, ham, sausage gravy with biscuits, an assortment of juices, regular and decaf coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and water.


As a special tribute to the local dairy farmers, milk will also be available as a beverage, and strawberry shortcake will be added to the menu to celebrate spring. Cost for adults is $8, senior citizens $7, and all children $5. For further information call (607)838-8249 or (607)838-3444.

Groton Rural Cemetery
The Groton Rural Cemetery Association will hold its annual meeting for lot owners at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 30 at the First National Bank of Groton on Main Street.


This meeting will be followed by the annual meeting of the Association’s board of trustees.

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