A pilot of a new bistro-style approach to senior dining at the Sebastopol Senior Center was so successful that Council on Aging is now planning to roll out the program at its four other senior dining sites that have their own kitchens, starting with the Rohnert Park Senior Center in February.
Council on Aging recently received approval from Sonoma County Adult and Aging Services to expand the program, based on the results of the pilot at Sebastopol and inspections of COA’s kitchen operations.
During the month of August 2016, COA tested the bistro format at the Sebastopol Area Senior Center that allows patrons to choose lunch fare from among four menu items any time between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. every weekday, and have their meal prepared on the spot. Previously, COA’s senior dining program provided only one menu item, with just one seating.
“We worked really hard on creating a delicious array of easy-to-prepare entrées and a restaurant-like ambience so that patrons would want to return again and again,” Charles Lindner, Director of Nutrition Services and Kitchen Operations, said. “We can’t wait to provide the same type of high-quality dining experience at the other four sites.”
Due to the popularity of the menu choices and cook-to order approach, the number of meals served at the Sebastopol Senior Center doubled during August over the previous month. Lindner trained volunteers to cook and serve the meals during the pilot program, with “a focus on making the dining site volunteer experience as exciting and rewarding as possible.”
COA requests a donation of $4 from patrons over 60 for the entrée. For people under 60, the cost is $6.50 per meal. Menu items change every two weeks. However, no one over the age of 60 is ever refused service for lack of funds.