by Jacklin Bolduan
The West Madison Senior Center, along with its three other coalitions in town, provides a variety of services to seniors in Madison, including an extensive meal program that seeks to foster nutritional awareness and community-building amongst residents.
While the four Senior Centers provide donation-based meals every day of the week over four different locations, their most recent focus has been on their newest location in a shared spaced between the Meadowridge Library and Meadowood Neighborhood center on Madison’s west side.
The Center received a grant from the state Bureau of Aging and Disability to open the new meal site as a sort of pilot program to assess how much interest there would be at this particular location. The grant began in November of last year and will go through September, when it will hopefully be extended to December. The meals at this location are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon. The suggested donation for seniors 60 and older is $4 per meal, which can be extended to that senior’s spouse if they are under 60 or a child with a disability. Anyone may attend the meal but should plan to pay $7.50 if they are under the age of 60.
Mary Malischke, the Center’s Nutrition Program Director, says that they’re hope is to begin reaching more seniors of color in the program and are looking for ways to make them more aware of the services they provide. She says that currently meals at this particular site have been mostly attended by white seniors. They’re hoping to do some outreach to local churches and other community centers in the area to make everyone aware of the meal program.
“The wonderful thing about it is that everyone can afford to eat. It’s a confidential donation. Nobody knows what anybody pays. ”
The Meadowood Neighborhood Center is a collaboration between Madison School and Community Recreation (MSCR) and the City of Madison whose mission is to provide a safe space for youth and other community members to socialize and take advantage of health and fitness classes MSCR provides, along with other resources like job info sessions. The West Madison Senior Center hopes that the community will take advantage of its meal program in the same way.
In addition to the donation-based meal, Dane County provides a bus to anyone on the west side for a donation of $1 to any of the daytime meal locations. The bus is only for seniors living on the west side of Madison, however, other seniors can take the bus to the whichever meal site is in their area.
Malischke says she thinks the low attendance by people of color is just a result of outreach to those communities. “I think it’s too good to be true. I don’t think people really believe it.” She hopes that everyone will begin to take more advantage of the meal programs along with other services that the West Madison Senior Center provides, such as case management, housing, and medicare resources. The Center also offers exercise classes and even a home chore program that helps seniors with housework and other tasks. These services are targeted towards low-income seniors, as you must meet the income requirement to participate in some of the other programs. The Center has several events coming up such as a collaboration with Jewish Social Services on April 14th at 10:30AM. The event will host a chef who will give a demonstration on cooking kosher soul food.
You can find all of this information and more about the meal site schedules, menus, and bus pick-up online at wmseniorcenter.org. If you plan on attending the meal, you must call ahead and make a reservation by noon the day beforehand at 608-238-0196. Be sure to let them know if you would like the bus to pick you up.