Earlier this month, volunteers hand out frozen meals provided by Southern Maine Agency on Aging through a Meals to Go program for seniors in Scarborough. Courtesy photo

On a bitter cold Tuesday morning earlier this month, a line of cars pulls into the new Scarborough Community Services hub at 418 Payne Road. Despite the snow, there is a tent set up in front of the building — currently the site of the town’s all-day hybrid care school program — covering tables lined with packages. These bags contain three frozen meals provided by Southern Maine Agency on Aging through a Meals to Go program for seniors. A handful of volunteers is at the ready to bring the deliveries to the cars as they pull up. They are made up of the Seniors Program coordinator, two Martin’s Point Health Care representatives, and three Scarborough police officers.

This Feb. 9 pickup date brings the registrants some extra goodies in the spirit of Valentine’s Day. Cynthia DiBiase, Senior Programs coordinator for Scarborough Community Services, looked to community organizations to lend a hand during a season that’s often a struggle for older residents. With the rallying support of the community, meal pickup included a bag of shelf stable items from Scarborough Food Pantry, including crackers and cereal, plus a fresh element of homemade muffins and fruit provided by Scarborough School Nutrition and Project G.R.A.C.E. Additionally, registrants felt the love with handmade Valentine’s cards from students and chocolates provided by an anonymous donor with Len Libby Candies.

“It was heartwarming to be part of a community-wide effort to spread some love right before Valentine’s Day!” said DiBiase. “We pulled together as a community to make 50 seniors smile and feel special. I am so happy to be a part of this great work.”

The program began in July as a response to financial and social strains brought on by the pandemic. It also takes the place of the weekly senior meals that used to occur in person. “When the pandemic hit, we found ourselves having to quickly pivot and get creative in how we were servicing our clients,” said Renee Longarini, Nutrition Program director for the Southern Maine Agency On Aging. “It has been wonderful partnering with local organizations such as the Town of Scarborough to reach the older adults in our community that are in need, and I love seeing the results of all the hard work. Not only does it serve as a great nutrition option for those attending, it has also decreased the anxiety and worry some have about where they will get their next meal.”

These meals make a huge difference, with many seniors coming to rely on them every month. They are easy to prepare, nutritious, and help seniors limit their trips to the stores during these uncertain times. Due to the positive community response and extended financial support through COVID-19 funds, the Meals to Go program will continue to be offered for the foreseeable future. Seniors 60 or older can get three pre-cooked frozen meals for a suggested donation of $10. For residents under 60, the cost for the three meals is $15. Registration is required at least one week in advance.

If you know anyone over 60 who would benefit from this program, contact Cynthia DiBiase at Community Services at 207-730-4173 to register for upcoming meal pickups (Tuesdays, twice monthly at the 418 Payne Road Community Services Hub). Registration is required. You can register for one or more days by calling 207-730-4173. Please leave a message, and someone will get back to you. Note: If you are not registered with SMAA, we will need you to fill out a form over the phone.

Drive-thru pick up for meals will be from 11 a.m. to noon on April 6, April 20, May 4, and May 18.

Deadline to sign up for April 6 meals is March 29, for April 20 meals is April 12, for May 4 meals is April 26, and for May 18 meals is May 10. Sign ups for all dates must be made by 4 p.m.

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