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Meal service continues despite challenges for senior center

  • Updated
  • 2 min to read

The Walla Walla Senior Citizens Center, even with its building shut down, is ramping up its meal service.

The kitchen is open for volunteers to prepare meals — lots and lots of meals.

Offerings at the center have always included meals served on location, at 720 Sprague Ave., and through Meals on Wheels, delivered to seniors at home, filling a need for healthy food, socializing and checking to ensure those at home are doing alright.

But during this pandemic, that need is increasing, and like everyone and every organization still operating, the center is trying to adapt to new circumstances.

Jane Kaminsky, nutrition director, and Tania Seib, executive director at the center, have been able to respond to the increased need for services.

Most weekdays, excluding holidays and some Fridays, from 11 a.m.-noon, seniors can come to the center parking lot near the loading dock for drive-up meals.

For those 60 and older, a suggested donation is $4, and for those younger than 60 the price is $7. Information on schedule and menu is at

Meals from the center have always been popular. The situation is different now, but the popularity of those meals is increasing.

“They start lining up at 10:30 a.m., and we start carry-out service at 11 a.m.,” Kaminsky said.

Center staffers appreciate the partnerships the organization has in the community. This past week, their partnership with Delta Dental meant seniors received some dental supplies in addition to their meal.

Meals on Wheels and drive-through pick up in the parking lot is serving 140-195 meals a day. The meals provided now number about 1,500 a month.

A big part of the meals program is socializing and a casual wellness check on those at home. These necessary contacts are made much more difficult by social distancing and sheltering in place.

Just touching base with someone has meaning.

“(As) part of the nutrition program, the existing Meals on Wheels before COVID-19, we’d go to homes, go into homes, bring in some socialization,” Kaminsky said.

“Now we have no-contact delivery, with exceptions for the bed-bound. Those who are able put a stand of some kind outside. The driver knocks, steps back and waits to see the client pick it up,” she said. “For the home-bound anyway, this hasn’t changed the way we check on people.”

Alex Sanchez, the social worker who runs the Adult Day Care, which, of course, is closed right now, makes the weekly phone calls on those who are home-bound.

“We asked the community to write letters to the home-bound,” Seib said. “The YMCA picked that up. Our staff has been amazing, doing what we need to do.”

She praised their volunteers, delivery drivers and those in the community who were able to offer help. That help has been essential, she said. Every day, new seniors come to the center.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the community,” Kaminsky said. “The city of Walla Walla dropped off awnings so the hot weather and rain won’t interfere. We really thank the community for all the donations, Baker Boyer Bank, Cascade Natural Gas and individuals.”

Walla Walla Senior Citizens Center is adapting to the new normal and working hard to serve their targeted population.

“We want seniors to know we’re here,” Kaminsky said.

Karlene Ponti can be reached at karleneponti@wwub.com or 509-526-8324.

Karlene Ponti began as Special Publications Writer in 1999, work includes Lifestyles, The Weekly and Business Monthly. After Wa-Hi, Ponti attended Whitman and is a UW graduate. Later she was ordained a Christian minister at CDM Spiritual Teaching Center.