Seniors accustomed to getting together for dinner Tuesday will need to find a spot other than the Pilgrim Senior Center until the New Year.
Jeanne Gattegno, president of Westbay Community Action said yesterday that the dinner program is being suspended until the second Tuesday in January to allow the woman who runs it some time off.
“It’s a matter of manpower,” Gattegno said. “She has to take her vacation time by the end of the year or lose it.”
The announcement that the Tuesday dinners would be suspended had Ed Greer concerned. Greer, who frequents the dinners that typically draw 30 to 60 people, feared the program was being dropped. He called the mayor’s office as well as the Beacon in his effort to find out what is happening.
“There was no notice,” Greer said. He thought the seniors might help to keep the program going but said, “we’re locked out [of the kitchen] now.”
The center kitchen is leased by Westbay and used for the preparation of anywhere from 400 to 500 meals weekly. In addition to lunches at the Pilgrim Center, the meals are trucked to adult daycare centers, children’s centers and other senior centers. Gattegno said a staff of cooks and drivers start at 4 a.m., but they are finished by the time for the Tuesday dinner and there isn’t the personnel for that meal other than the aforementioned staff member, who needs to use or lose her vacation time.
Gattegno said the Tuesday evening program serves a different population than that of the lunch program. She said there are many more couples and many that work or are kept busy during the day caring for grandchildren or other family members. The intent of the program is to provide seniors with an opportunity for socialization in addition to good nutrition.
Seniors are asked to donate $6 for the dinner and are required to make reservations to insure that enough food is prepared.
Gattegno said donations do not cover the full cost of the meals and the difference is made up through federal and state grants.
She assures that there’s every intention of resuming the Tuesday dinners after the holidays.