Yakima seniors reconnect as COVID restrictions ease with free lunches
YAKIMA, Wash. — For the first time in two years, Yakima seniors were able to sit down for a free, hot meal with friends Monday at the half-dozen Meals on Wheels senior dining rooms set up across the Yakima Valley.
“We’re very excited to be providing meals to the seniors and being able to get them out and about and being able to socialize with each other again,” said Angel Keller, Chief Operating Officer for People for People.
Keller said while they have continued to feed seniors throughout the pandemic — with weekly deliveries or pickups of frozen meals — many seniors have struggled with the isolation.
“They have been in their homes for so long and it’s been very sad for us as an organization knowing that the seniors are unable to get out,” Keller said.
George and Carol Lulham started coming to the senior dining room at the Harman Center five years ago, but with the dining rooms closed for the past two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, they’ve spent a lot of time on their own.
“What do they call it here? Cabin fever,” Carol Lulham said.
While the couple was able to use technology like Zoom to connect with family and friends — and picked up weekly packages of frozen meals through the Meals on Wheels program — they say it wasn’t the same as sitting down next to someone and sharing a hot meal.
“It is difficult to sit there just week after week, eat your meals and not interact with other people,” George Lulham said. “It’s so important that we have that connection to people for our mental health.”
Carol Lulham said it was easier on them because they had each other, but other seniors don’t necessarily have that support.
“This gentleman we spoke to today, he just lost his wife a few months ago, and he was saying, ‘I always tell all men, be kind to your wives while you’ve got them,'” Carol Lulham said. “So, you know, I’d say if you’re on your own, it’s even more important to get out.”
Free lunches are available for seniors in the Yakima Valley weekdays from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at:
- Henry Beauchamp Community Center, 1211 S. 7th St. in Yakima
- Harman Center, 101 N. 65th Ave. in Yakima
- The Salvation Army, 310 N 16th Ave. in Yakima
- Union Gap Senior Center, 1000 Ahtanum Rd. in Union Gap
- Selah Civic Center, 261 S. 1st St. in Selah
- Sunnyside Senior Center, 1400 Federal Way in Sunnyside
- Grandview Senior Center, 812 Wallace Way in Grandview
Anyone with questions about eligibility for Meals on Wheels programs or transportation needs can call 2-1-1 for more information.
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