Numbers are climbing for senior meals to go in Westfield and Southwick

WESTFIELD – The numbers are climbing for

Southwick Council on Aging Director Cindy Sullivan delivers a meal to a resident March 24, 2020. The Senior Center is offering drive-up lunches for those who call ahead. (HOPE E. TREMBLAY/THEWESTFIELD NEWS)

take-out meals at the Westfield Senior Center, according to Executive Director Tina Gorman.
“Our meals are going really well. Our numbers are climbing every day. When we first started, we had 40, then up to 50, then 60, and now we’re up to 75,” Gorman said March 25.
The take-out meals, prepared by the Senior Center kitchen staff, are available for $3, Monday through Friday with curbside pick-up. Those who wish to purchase a meal should call the Senior Center at (413) 562-6435 in the morning between 8:30 – 10 a.m. and provide a name and phone number.
Their meal will be available for a drive-by pick-up near the Senior Center front patio between the hours of 11 a.m and 12 noon that day. For meal pick-up, enter the parking lot via Murphy Circle, which is the entrance farthest from the Senior Center building.
The meals, which are the same as the ones listed on the monthly menu, will be cooked but will have to be heated at home, Gorman said. The April menu will be published in an insert in The Westfield News on March 28.
Seniors who normally participate in the Westfield Middle School Senior Lunch program can pick up bagged lunches at Abner Gibbs Elementary School, 50 West Silver St., from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“The feedback we’re hearing from the seniors is that this is their one contact a day. People are getting cabin fever, and this is a safe way to see a familiar face,” Gorman said. She said most of the seniors coming for meals are regulars who would normally come for the congregate lunch,
Gorman said the staff is also spending a minute or two checking in and talking with people, to make sure they’re okay.
“I have a great staff. I have a few working from home, some coming in on a modified scheduled. For all of us, it’s really fun to connect with the seniors outside. I’m doing traffic flow and recruited my husband and my daughter. I think we’re doing fine,” Gorman said.
Gorman said the only problem they anticipate is getting low on to-go containers, which are also being used by all the restaurants offering takeout. They are also an added expense the Senior Center doesn’t usually have.
“We were able to find some, so we’re okay for the next few weeks. If we stay at 75, then we’re ok for the next several weeks. If the numbers continue to climb, they won’t last as long. We’re just looking around for some,” she said.

Cindy Sullivan, director of the Southwick Council on Aging, said the food-to-go program at the Southwick Senior Center is going well.
“Our food program is going great. We are giving out meals every weekday Monday through Friday. Pickup is at 11:30 a.m. We are serving about 25-30 meals using our grab and go service. The Seniors drive up and we hand them their meals. We do a check in to see if they are doing all right and if they need groceries or medications,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan said seniors need to call the Senior Center the day before they would like a meal at 413-569-5498. Meals are $3 by donation, which seniors may put in the cash box when they pick up their meals.
She said they have also seen an uptick in the number of Meals on Wheels requests, so they are delivering about 22-25 of those each day. “I have two drivers who come in and do that for us. We are also delivering five or six meals to seniors who used to come to congregate in the Senior Center van, and who have no way of participating in the grab and go,” Sullivan said.
Starting March 25, Sullivan said she is the only essential staff person working in the Senior Center, with the addition of the drivers who come in when it’s time for meal delivery. She said the phones have been forwarded to her cellphone so she can answer questions and schedule any grocery shopping or medication pick up.
“Southwick residents have once again shown their support by calling and offering to help,” Sulivan said. She said as the week goes on and into next week, she anticipates more seniors needing help with groceries and medication pick up.
“As it’s been stated many times, seniors need to stay away from gatherings and should be staying home,” Sullivan said. “Coming and getting a meal gets them out of the house for a short time and we are using all precautions to make sure they are safe.”

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