At nutrition site, everybody's glad you came

Remember that TV show theme song about the place where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came?

There's a place like that in for senior adults in Locust. But unlike that TV show, this place serves meals, and it's free.

The community building beside Locust Elementary School is a site for the Stanly County Nutrition Program, which is administered by the county seniors' center. Every day, except holidays, anyone 60 and older can go there to get a nutritious meal, enjoy a program and visit with friends.

Pam Luton, who manages the Locust site, said the daily lunch gathering is "like a big Sunday School class." Great friendships are formed while the food is served and during the daily programs that accompany the meals.

Often the program is simply someone from the seniors' center sharing information of importance to senior adults.

Some days, students from the elementary school next door or from the community college down the road come in to provide a program.

There are opportunities for sing-alongs, blood pressure checks or flu shots, and about once a month they play bingo. On the day I spoke with Luton, an old-timers band was playing in the background, warming up for their performance.

The purpose of the nutrition program is to be sure that senior adults have at least one well-balanced meal each day. There are no eligibility requirements, and meals are also provided to homebound folks. Luton relies on a cadre of volunteers who use their lunch breaks and their own vehicles to deliver meals and check in on local senior adults.

For many of the homebound, this may be the only human contact they make in their day, and Luton said that the program has literally saved lives.

For other seniors, the daily lunch program is a reason to get out of the house every day.

Luton said the average daily crowd is 20 to 25 people, primarily from Locust, Midland and Stanfield. Some people come every day.

Others are there weekly, and some stop by just for special occasions.

Diners are asked to sign in and indicate when they'll be back so that the correct number of meals will be prepared. They're also asked, if possible, to donate $1.25 toward the cost of the meal.

Luton said she sometimes receives donations for the nutrition program, and often children of participating senior adults will pay for their parents' meals.

Even for those able to pay, the fellowship they receive is priceless.

They've shared good times and heartbreak, said goodbye to friends and even witnessed a wedding for a couple who met there.

If you, or someone you know, can benefit from this program, call Pam Luton at 704-888-4265.

You'll find nourishment for your heart as well as your body.