THAYER -- The Southwest Missouri Office on Aging (SMOA), which helps fund the Thayer Fun and Friends Senior Citizen Center, has designated the center as a test food center for the area for the month of February.
Fun and Friends Director Sheila Smith said during February those who eat lunch at the center will now have the choice of what vegetables they will select with their meals.
"In the past everyone just came to the window and the cooks filled their trays. Now meat is the only food item that will be served at the window," Smith said.
Smith said she thinks the new program will cut down on wasted food at the center. "Now those that participate in the noon meal program will not have anything on their tray they don't want to eat. There should be no or little food going in the trash," she said.
The center already had a cold salad bar and Smith said she hopes the hot vegetable bar will be as big a hit at the center as the salad bar has been. She said every day the new hot bar will offer two vegetables and the third slot may be filled with other food items such as egg rolls or soup.
"We need to remind anyone eating at the center at noon that this is not an all-you-can eat food bar; we have to stay within our budget," Smith said. She said after everyone has eaten if there is anything left on the bar, persons are welcome to go back and eat what's left.
Smith said the center averages feeding approximately 60 people in the center each day. They average sending out 380 home delivered meals a day. The cost for the noon meal at Fun and Friends is $2.25 for anyone 60 and older and $4.50 for anyone under 60.
"I have wanted to do this for a long time. I have seen too much food going in the trash that people will not eat. Now they will have a choice," Smith said. She said this month will determine if the new hot food bar stays at the center. "If the diners that eat here like it and it is economically feasible it will probably stay," she said.
The center director said SMOA funded the purchase of the new hot food bar but the center regularly has fundraisers to help buy "extras" at the center. "We have bought a cappuccino machine and an ice cream machine, and we buy all of our own coffee and tea," she said.
Some of the upcoming fundraisers at Fun and Friends include the annual crowning of the Valentine king and queen. This year's candidates are Bob and Verdie Mills, Tom and Dawn Taylor and Cliff and Louise Watkins. Jars are placed near the entrance of Fun and Friends and center volunteers and others can vote on the candidates of choice.
Smith said the first ever Cooking with Friends Cookbook is currently being put together by center volunteers and will be another fundraiser. "We are hoping the cookbooks will be ready for sale by March. We have not finalized all the details involving the sale of the cookbooks yet, such as the price, but when we do we will let the community know through The South Missourian News," she said.
The director said she is excited about the hot vegetable bar and the possibilities it offers for senior citizens and others in the community. "The new hot vegetable bar has allowed Fun and Friends to become a center of choice," she said.