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Breakfast offered at senior centers

Oatmeal, muffins and orange smoothies could be available to senior citizens weekday mornings as part of a year-long pilot program being launched by the state next month.

The option to offer a breakfast at local Senior Centers comes from the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, which is providing the products at no charge to participating communities.

“I’m excited about it,” said Amherst Senior Center Director Nancy Pagano.

“I think this could be a nice addition to our programming and would be very beneficial to seniors,” said Northampton Senior Center Director Patricia Shaughnessy.

While Amherst has a daily congregate meal site for lunch, and also home delivers meals that can be eaten at lunch and dinner, this will mark the first time breakfast is available.

“I think it’s a valuable program, and I’m hoping people find it to be an attractive option,” Pagano said.

Shaughnessy said Northampton’s nutrition site is at the Walter Salvo House, so this would add a new regular meal service at the Senior Center. She expects there would be interest in it.

In Amherst, the breakfast items will be served from the lounge on the second floor of the Bangs Community Center, rather than the lunch room. The food will be available between 8 and 10 a.m.

In Northampton, details are still being worked out. Shaughnessy said she will present the idea to the Council on Aging Thursday, where a discussion will be held on how to implement it.

People will be asked to sign up in advance for the day they plan to eat, and can also bring items home with them so they will have breakfast for the following day.

There is also no charge to participants. But one concern for the Amherst Senior Center is that the state is not providing coffee, which Pagano said means the Senior Center will be responsible for having this item that some participants may request.

Pagano said coffee is already provided on Wednesday and Friday mornings, and it may be worthwhile adding the additional three days. There is a possibility of seeking donations during the breakfast to offset this cost.

Shaughnessy said if there is any cost associated with the breakfast, she would try to cover it through fundraising.

The breakfast food will be brought to the sites each day by Highland Valley Elder Services.

Senior centers will likely need to recruit volunteers to assist in setting up. In Amherst, Pagano has already tabbed Kaz Rahmani, who has experience in restaurant business, to oversee the breakfast each day.

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