Langley Senior Resources Centre is operating a new meals-to-go program that has taken off in recent weeks, currently serving upwards of 400 meals a week. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Langley seniors centre new meal program takes off

When catering dried up, kitchen staff started a meals-to-go that now serves 400 hot dinners a week

Re-opening plans for the Langley seniors centre are still up in the air. But, in the meantime, one of its newest programs is taking off like gang busters.

The society, which operates the main centre on 51B Avenue, has been shut down for a couple of months now, but it has been anything but quiet – at least in the kitchen, said Paul Goldberg.

Response to a new take-out meal program, specifically but not exclusively designed for seniors, has “really taken off nicely,” said Goldberg, executive director of the Langley Senior Resources Society (LSRS).

In normal times, the society operates a catering service, providing meals for weddings, banquets, celebrations of life, and more. But since COVID, Goldberg said that business – which offsets a considerable portion of the centre’s operating costs – has dried up.

That’s when the idea was floated of offering meals to go – to help offset some of the shortfall and to help people in the community.

The switch to this program, he said, “is just a sign of the times.”

It started off “slowly” a month and a half ago, and he said it’s gone from providing a handful of meals daily to centre regulars to providing upwards of 400 a week to a wide range of Langley residents.

“That’s a pretty substantial volume, and it’s been ramping up quite a bit over the past six weeks, and it still seems to be rising. And, we’re up for the task,” he elaborated, explaining how it is separate from the community’s Meals on Wheels program operated for shut-ins by another local agency.

It’s not a huge revenue generator, but helps keep the lights on at the seniors centre, Goldberg said, explaining that the hot meals are offered at a significant discount and aimed at isolated seniors who in past would typically attend the centre for at least one meal a day.

“It’s really more of a service for the community,” he expanded. “But there’s also a lot of families who are taking advantage of these meals to go, so we’re not selling them only to seniors.”

RELATED: Langley seniors centre offers meals-to-go during coronavirus crisis

With about three-quarters of the centre’s staff laid off, he explained there is a skeleton team operating the meal program – with assistance from volunteers – and offering some other administrative duties and outreach supports such as grocery shopping and counselling.

As for the centre’s recreational programs, Goldberg said nothing has been decided about when things will re-open, or in what form.

Just ahead of seniors week, Goldberg said there’s a board meeting set for Monday night. At that time, he expects to be given some direction for the next few weeks, and hopes to put a plan in place soon.

“We might be able to start doing a couple of things, but we’re not going to be opening the centre doors to the public any time soon,” he said, noting some services might start up again by appointment only.

“In terms of a full-blown re-opening, that’s still some time down the road,” he reiterated. “We’re going to be cautious, start slow, and build up over time… It’s going to be a week-by-week thing and we’re hoping to do a slow restart sometime soon.”

He noted there will be no seniors week festivities or programs offered this year, and last year’s seniors of the year will simply wear the crown a little longer than expected – until June 2021.

In the meantime, the centre’s meals-to-go program continues. There’s a changing menu on the centre’s website, with many buying as many as six meals at a time.

People can order and pickup discounted meals ($6 each) by calling 604-530-3020 ext. 315. All orders must be place by noon one day before pick up. There is also limited delivery available, Goldberg noted.

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