Activity center offers meals to seniors through nutrition center

Published 2:30 pm Monday, October 9, 2023

The Andalusia Adult Activity Center offers a wide assortment of activities to the community, but what some may not know is that the AAAC is also a nutrition center offering meals.

Amber Vanderryt serves Mary Brazell a plate at the Andalusia Adult Activity Center. The meal was meat loaf, mashed potatoes, English peas, cornbread, and a serving of Jell-O with fruit. (PHOTO BY ZACK MAIO)

Requirements are in place for those who visit the activity center and inquire about meals offered. Those who choose to eat must be aged 60 or over, complete a participant enrollment form, and sign a release. Although there is no fee for meals, a contribution is suggested at $2.00 per meal. All contributions remain local to help with center expenses.

The activity center can serve a maximum of 28 individuals in house. Delivery is offered to 41 consumers within the city limits. If an individual wishes to come eat, he/she must contact the activity center ahead of time and inquire if there is an opening on that particular day. Availability of meals is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“We are contracted with SARCOA to offer our elderly nutritious meals through TRIO Community Meals. Each meal is a third of the nutrition needs for seniors and a good resource for energy,” AAAC Program Coordinator Sonja Godwin said.

According to a presentation provided to the Star-News, food products used on the menu must meet contract requirements. Meals contain at least 3 ounces of edible protein including non-meats such as cheese. All ground beef and ground beef patties must be purchased pre-cooked and be 100 percent beef with no added textured vegetable protein. All fruits and vegetables must meet USDA Grade A approval. The activity center receives a quarterly calendar with a daily menu. Recipe changes are based on meal presentation, senior center comments, or practicality.

“I feel very blessed to have staff that genuinely cares about our seniors. Our seniors love coming here and being apart of our programs. One of the hardest parts of my job is when I hear that someone is lonely or stays at home all the time and doesn’t get out. If they would just come for a few days, I truly believe it would change their outlook on life. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone means facing one’s fears. We are here to help with that loneliness, anxiety, and/or depression that one often experiences later in life,” Godwin said.

Sandra Broom, Donna Turner, and Amber Vanderryt work out of the nutrition center at the activity center.

Vanderryt delivers meals each day to those in the city limits within a two-hour window.

“I love what I do and have been here for almost two years. I hand out 41 meals and really enjoy meeting the elderly and bringing a smile to their faces. When I return from doing deliveries, I help out in the kitchen and wherever I’m needed,” Vanderryt said.

“I’ve been working at the center for nine years, and it has been such a blessing. I enjoy my job and thoroughly enjoy and love my seniors. I appreciate each and every one of them. We have such a good time eating and fellowshipping together,” Turner said.

“I love working with seniors and have been working five years at the nutrition center. Seniors can get a balanced meal and enjoy the day. We would love for you to join us,” Broom said.

Godwin added that while the activity center’s nutritional meals are important, there are plenty of other benefits for seniors at the activity center.

“Our meals pale in comparison to the social benefits. There is so much more to the Andalusia Adult Center than most individuals realize. We have many activities for those who like to sew, paint, or do crafts including the Cricut classes. We offer all kinds of special events like our peanut boil, ice cream social, fashion show, game day, bingo and monthly dinner dances, just to menion a few. For those individuals that love to travel we offer trips like Hawaii, South Carolina, and more. We have guest speakers come share their knowledge on topics like avoiding being scammed, heart healthy habits, and Medicare open enrollment. In addition to all that we also have a full gym, curves room, toning beds, line dancing and much more.”

Godwin added that the activity center also has access to other services for senior adults through SARCOA, which brings together funding sources and providers to deliver services. SARCOA will be at the center on Wednesday, Nov. 1, from 11:45 a.m. until 1:15 p.m. to offer enrollment for the state health insurance program to Medicare.

“Thanks to the Mayor and Council’s approval, we applied for and have been awarded two conversion vans through ALDOT. Once we receive those, we will be able to attend more local events as a group and take more one-day outings. If you think you live in a small town and there is nothing to do, then I invite you to look around, we in Andalusia are blessed beyond measure and are growing every day.”

The Adult Activity Center is located at 401 Walker Avenue in downtown Andalusia near the Ballet. Hours of operation are weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“If you are signed up for meals, remember the nutrition center begins serving at 11 a.m., but you need to be at the center by 10:30. We look forward to welcoming you,” Godwin said.

For more information call 334-222-6891.