The Chickamauga Senior Center offers free meals for seniors, to not only provide nutrition but also to bring people together.
"We want to let the public know that there is a senior center in Chickamauga that can provide nutritious meals, help with them Medicare and Medicaid, and host informational sessions on issues that are important to them," said Pam Rinehart, who is the new Chickamauga Senior Center site manger.
The only requirements for the free hot lunch meals are to be 60 years or older and Rinehart asks that seniors register in advance but says walk-ins are welcome too. There are no income restrictions or requirements.
For those without transportation, the Walker County Transit provides free rides to the center. Homebound seniors can even have meals delivered.
"The door is open for them [seniors] to come and socialize, eat or just play and leave whenever they want," Rinehart said.
She said Bateman Senior Meals out of Trion, Ga., provides the center with the nutritious meals served, which are created by dieticians and meet sodium and dietary requirements.
Rinehart does food evaluations and checks the temperature and quality of the food before serving, she said. The catered meals are delivered in thermal containers to keep them warm, she added. The center currently has hot meals delivered daily in addition to a weekly delivery of frozen meals.
Rinehart said she is currently serving 55 meals daily altogether and would love to see the center serving 155 meals.
"We have plenty of room to accommodate more," she said.
The center's staff educates seniors on the food groups and different health topics each month. Different activities are offered daily, from exercising, bingo, gospel singing and arts and crafts. Rinehart is looking for volunteers to teach different types of hands-on classes.
"The center is better now that it ever has been, because Pam has good, fresh ideas," said LaBelle Mayberry, a local who has been coming to the center for eight years. "We have a lot of fun activities: crafts, exercising, bingo, we play the piano and everyone sings. It brings up spirits."
Rinehart said the center gives seniors purpose, responsibility and a sense of being that she believes all need.
The public is invited to an open house and information day at the Chickamauga Senior Center March 29 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lunch is typically offered Monday-Friday at 11:30 a.m., but seniors can stop by anytime during weekday operating hours, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"It's nice to be with people my own age - we compare pains, medications and aches," joked Gladdis Manley, a local Chickamauga resident.
Rinehart is encouraging seniors to participate in and help spread the word about the meals program. Registration can be done at the Chickamauga Senior Center located at 414 14th St. or by phone at 706-375-2030.
The Chickamauga Nutrition Center is operated with funds provided through the Older Americans Act and the state of Georgia, and is administered by the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, Area Agency on Aging.