Senior center provides more than just meals

Senior center provides more than just meals

February 14, 2022 in Harvest Time Newsletter

The SeniorAge Center in Marshfield, MO serves nearly 100 meals a day and delivers food to 70 seniors each month, driving 600 miles across Webster, Wright and Laclede counties to make sure everyone has the food they need.

As impressive as that is, that’s not even all that this Ozarks Food Harvest partner does. The center hosts exercise groups, games (such as dominoes, cards, and bingo), offers Medicare counseling during open enrollment, assistance with taxes every spring, and helps connect seniors to other resources they might need.

Chris Parker, Center Administrator of SeniorAge – Marshfield Senior Center, said, “We want to do whatever we can for our seniors. We figure out how to make it happen. It’s about connecting the right people with the right resources.”

Last year, Parker met an elderly couple who were living in poor and unsanitary conditions. Financially strapped, they struggled to navigate resources that could help. Parker was able to use her knowledge of local senior housing to refer and move them into a good senior housing complex, significantly improving their situation. In another instance, the Marshfield Senior Center was able to get a client a hospital bed for her husband so he could finish his hospice at home. Since then, this bed has been utilized by several other senior families during their time of need.

The Marshfield Senior Center is more than just a meal; providing nutritious food to seniors, ranging from age 60-99, is an important part of what they do. In October 2012, they became the first senior center to provide USDA Commodity Senior Food Program boxes through Ozarks Food Harvest.

Jane Hamilton-Smith was volunteering with the Marshfield Senior Center when the program started, and a decade later, at 88, she is still dedicated to the mission. Each month, Hamilton-Smith calls nearly 70 seniors before the senior boxes are set to arrive. During each conversation she asks recipients if they are able to pick up their box or if they need it to be delivered. On each call, she also chats with seniors about their families, their health, and their lives.

“I tell people to call any time,” Hamilton-Smith said. “This program is more than just about food, it’s about friendships.”

During the pandemic, the Center had to close for 15 months, but during that time volunteers continued to deliver food to their food-insecure neighbors. They also developed a telephone reassurance program for seniors. It offered comfort to those who were feeling overwhelmed and isolated during that time.

Parker, along with volunteers and staff, are passionate about the people they serve. Parker has been committed to the Marshfield Senior Center for more than thirty years. She started volunteering when her children were small, driving meals to seniors, sometimes having her kids tag along. Once her children were grown, she saw the job opening at the Center and immediately submitted her resume.

Her outstanding selfless service to the community shines through her work at the Center. “What we do is a labor of love,” Parker noted.

The Food Bank is proud to work with such exceptional partners. We admire their dedication and passion to serve their community and help in any way they can. We could not Transform Hunger into Hope without them.