UNIVERSITY OF MAINE AT AUGUSTA intern Amy Feeley ladles out a serving of chicken and corn chowder in the Senior Cafe kitchen.

UNIVERSITY OF MAINE AT AUGUSTA intern Amy Feeley ladles out a serving of chicken and corn chowder in the Senior Cafe kitchen.

BRUNSWICK

People Plus is putting grant money to good use, tending to both nutritional and social needs of seniors in the Brunswick area.

Executive Director Stacey Frizzle said the $7,500 grant targets improved nutrition for seniors and teens. For the seniors, Frizzle finds, the increased opportunities for socialization leads to better overall well-being.

Its third successful service, People Plus’s Monday Munchies program provides a hot meal and company every Monday between 11 a.m. and noon. The cost is a donation, which is up to the guest, suggested at $3-$4. If they have no money to spare, Frizzle said guests should come and eat anyway.

The program also offers a hot meal at least once a week at the Teen Center upstairs.

The cafe area had recently been renovated so it could start serving meals — something that kept Frizzle on her toes, matching the right grant to the right phase of the project.

For their inaugural meal, Frizzle said she made a five-gallon pot of chili along with cornbread.

On Monday, folks were enjoying chicken and corn chowder and an assortment of breads.

“It enables seniors to enjoy a hot lunch in our cafe or to take home a meal in the midst of a busy schedule,” Frizzle said.

Frizzle said the cafe thus far has been averaging about 30 meals with about half eaten in the cafe and half togo. It’s a number she expects to increase as word-of-mouth spreads and it becomes more of a routine for people who frequent the center. Frizzle said she’d like to see an average of 50 meals per week leave the kitchen.

This is in addition to the 125 community meals People Plus already serves a month with women’s and men’s breakfasts as well as a community lunch once a month, Frizzle said. Increasing that number by another couple hundred a month, Frizzle said, would provide a significant number of hot meals to people who may have went without. Often, Frizzle said, people will take a second serving home to a spouse who couldn’t make it out.

Nearly 800 meals a month come out of the Union Street building between People Plus and Meals on Wheels.

Frizzle said the first lunch was a fun experience where a group of seniors entered the cafe not knowing each other, however, after introductions over bowls of chili, they ended up chatting and playing Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Often, Frizzle said, simple things taken for granted, such as preparing food become more difficult with age, in addition to carrying groceries, transportation, cutting vegetables and opening cans. Even the task of getting a heavy dish in and out of the oven can become a nearly impossible chore.

“Our mission is fostering an independent life for older adults. If we can help them stay in their houses longer and live happier, having access to nutrition will extend an average senior’s time in their home without going into assisted living, an extra three years on average,” Frizzle said.

Frizzle said the cafe plans on partnering with the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program and the Union Street Bakery to provide one or two meals a month. Currently, Frizzle’s kitchen is a busy place to be each Sunday night, where gallons of chili and soup are created and prepped to be transported to People Plus on Monday morning.

Dottie Moody used to work at People Plus. Now she refers to it as her second home. With meal containers ready to go home with her, she says the pea soup is her favorite and she had servings number four and five with her to prove it.

“Pretty much all my friends are here — I like the company,” Moody said.

Amy Feeley, an intern from the University of Maine at Augusta, mans the soup station. Feeley is a human services major and this is her second week working Monday through Friday at People Plus.

“I love it — the people are very warm and friendly and I love interacting with the seniors and just getting to know everyone,” Feeley said.


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