I just knew that our old person disguises would come in handy again, following a successful line-jumping at the COVID-19 vaccination clinic some weeks back. This time, we used them to qualify for the “Free Weekly Take Out Lunch,” sponsored by the Maryland Department of Aging’s CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Restaurant Initiative grant, and part of Celebrate Older Americans Month. I hope you got all that.
Every Monday in May, seniors over 60 who pre-registered, could pick up a free lunch, provided by either the Atlantic Grille, Penny’s Diner, Manalu, or The Palms, at different sites around the county. Coming up on May 24 at the Emmitsburg Senior Center — if you register by 4 p.m. on May 14 — is a meal from The Palms. Crab cakes, no less, are the main offering. I know, I should have alerted you about these earlier, but I’m slow.
What a deal. Long before this pandemic thing, depending on the place, and the food, I have been known to go as high as $7 on a meal. Yes, it’s wild and crazy, but then what is your money for, I always say. This deal, organized locally by the Frederick County Senior Services Division, is even better.
The meal sites rotated between the Urbana Senior Center, Othello Regional Park in Jefferson, the Frederick Senior Center and the Emmitsburg Senior Center. I was all set to congratulate those restaurants for their charity work, but discovered that a state COVID-19 relief grant pays the restaurants for the meals.
Kitty Devilbiss, director of home and community connections for the Frederick County Senior Services Division, explained that the grant from the Maryland Department of Aging, is designed to “not only provide older adults with special meals, but to also support local businesses in each community.”
The community we visited last Monday to give the program a test run was the exploding metropolis of Urbana. You remember Urbana, don’t you? Seems like not that long ago it was a quiet little crossroads of Md. 355 and Md. 80, with a couple of houses, a Catholic church, elementary school, fire station, furniture refinishing shop, the popular but aging Peter Pan Restaurant and probably more — but not much — that I can recall. Now, it’s a genuine boom town without the oil wells.
We got to see the newest addition to Urbana a couple of weeks ago, at the open house of the large and well-equipped new South County Family YMCA, located next to Urbana High School. Also fairly new, at least to us, is the 95-acre Urbana District Park off Md. 355, with ball fields, playground, dog park, four large pavilions, veterans memorial, and hiking paths that will need some shade this summer. Is there any other county with such an extensive and well-designed park system?
A picnic table in that park was our next stop after picking up our lunch behind the Urbana Senior Center. We really enjoyed the rosemary chicken, rice pilaf, broccoli, bottled water and brownie from the Atlantic Grille in Urbana. Unfortunately, favorite wife Shirley said she didn’t consider this free meal a proper Mother’s Day outing. Nice try, though.
A fun part was running into some old friends from the Frederick Senior Center. Staff members Deb Ayers, Cathy Barnes, Caitlyn Kirby, Dara Markowitz, Steve Stoyke, and Devilbiss, helped Urbana Center Supervisor Susan Hofstra run the take-out lunch operation.
“This is a great opportunity to get out for a springtime drive and enjoy a tasty meal prepared by a local restaurant,” Devilbiss said by email. “It was certainly fun for staff to see so many familiar faces, and we’ve received lots of notes and calls from recipients who said the same thing.
“We chose to offer the weekly meals during May in recognition of Older Americans Month. This year’s theme is Communities of Strength, and older adults have certainly demonstrated their strength and fortitude throughout the COVID pandemic as they remained isolated from friends and family and yet continued to provide support to others. We expect to offer additional meals, utilizing different vendors, this summer for as long as funding is available.”
Thanks to the senior center staff for all their hard work. And thanks to restaurants Atlantic Grille, Penny’s Diner, Manalu and The Palms for providing meals and helping recognize seniors during Older Americans Month.
Free meal fan Bill Pritchard, who hopes all mothers have a Happy Mother’s Day, writes from Frederick. Reach him at email@example.com.