They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but at Bronx House Senior Center, now there’s free dinner, too.
Councilman James Vacca joined administrators and staff from Bronx House on Tuesday, September 16, to kick off an innovative new dinner program that caters to local seniors who are not available at lunchtime but seek the socialization and nutrition associated with shared meal programs.
Among the intended participants are the hundreds of seniors who attend Bronx House’s many recreational activities, including swimming, fitness, and dance, but are not available for lunch. The concept grew out of a site tour in the spring with Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, who oversees the Department for the Aging (DFTA), which funds senior centers.
So far, demand for the program, the first of its kind in the 13th Council District, is strong. Dinner is currently served on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 3:30 4:30 p.m., and since the program’s debut, between 60 and 80 seniors have taken part each day.
“It’s no secret that today’s seniors are more active and have busier schedules than those of past generations,” Vacca said. “And as more and more baby boomers retire, senior centers have to learn to be more flexible with their programming. Offering dinner as well as lunch is a perfect example of how a center can adapt quickly and creatively to changing times.”
Howard Martin, executive director of Bronx House, noted that the dinner program appeals not only to seniors who are unavailable for lunch but also to those who face the greatest isolation at dinnertime.
“Many of our seniors leave the center at two in the afternoon and go home and eat alone,” Martin said. “Here we’re able to extend our lunch program later in the day. I think this is a great program that we’re able to provide, and we’re thrilled that DFTA permitted us to do it.”