The Gibsons Seniors Society has been approved to receive a $10,000 provincial grant for a feasibility study on offering a daily hot lunch program at Harmony Hall.
Lee Ann Johnson, vice-president of the seniors society, said there is already a very successful lunch program offered at the Sechelt Seniors Activity Centre, but it needs to be replicated in Gibsons.
“We would like to make it possible for our members to share lunches closer to home instead of driving to Sechelt for the service,” said Johnson.
While nutritious food is important, especially for people who live alone and may not cook for themselves, the key to the program is “face-to-face socializing” that keeps people connected to their community.
“Most of the seniors centre programming is around people’s routine daily lives, not around special events,” said Johnson. “It’s important to be able to able to drop in for an activity.” Johnson noted that many people retire here thinking they will be close to family in the Lower Mainland, and then find out how difficult it is to travel back and forth by ferry.
The Sechelt lunch program is managed by a paid professional chef and supported by volunteers. Johnson also intends to explore the possibility of involving students from the Elphinstone Secondary food program. “I saw how well that worked at my parent’s retirement facility,” she said.
The feasibility study will include a business plan to determine costs and break-evens for a lunch program. Harmony Hall has an existing commercial kitchen and in addition to hot lunches, could prepare and freeze meals for seniors to take home.
Johnson hopes to complete the study by the end of this year.
The Gibsons Seniors Society has about 300 members, and operates out of Harmony Hall, which was built in the 1970’s on a town property on Harmony Lane. Membership is currently open to anyone aged 40 or over. Regular activities at the hall include table tennis, dancing, tai chi, bridge, and birthday lunches.
The $10,000 grant is from the BC Rural Dividend fund which is administered by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.