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by Anne Berleant
Every Tuesday at the First Baptist Church on Pleasant Street, the tables are set with plates, silverware, soft rolls and flower bouquets in anticipation of the Community Café luncheon.
“I’ve been coming for 13 years,” said Glenis Ellis of Blue Hill. “It’s a chance to get out and see people.”
The Community Café (formerly Meals For Me) is an Eastern Area Agency on Aging program that offers area seniors a chance to join with friends for a meal and conversation—and perhaps make some new acquaintances along the way. Weekly, 140 to 190 seniors attend Community Cafés in Brooksville, Penobscot, Blue Hill, Deer Isle, Sedgwick and Stonington, said Rob Crone, EAAA’s Director of Nutrition and Auxiliary Services.
“I was invited a few years ago,” said Jeannette Candage, adding, “It’s food you don’t have to cook or clean up.”
“These two ladies have been coming longer than I have,” said site manager B.J. Bachman of Ellis and Candage.
The meals are prepared at an EAAA site in Bangor, “using Maine products to the extent possible,” said Crone, and transported to Blue Hill. Bachman serves the meals and, with help from volunteers, provides personal touches, like the table bouquets or perhaps a homemade dessert.
Jodie Grindle offers a prayer before the meal: “Bless each family represented here.”
The Blue Hill Community Café, formerly held on Wednesdays and Fridays, was suspended for six months but returned last November on Tuesdays.
“It’s on a new day and it’s open,” said Jane Horton, who retired as the Penobscot Community Cafe site manager last year.
Eastern Area Agency on Aging provides a variety of services for seniors. Started in 1973 as part of a nationwide network of agencies on aging established by the federal government’s Older Americans Act, its funding comes from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, individual donations and United Way. The Nutrition Program also receives funding from a federal grant and the Maine Office of Adult and Disability Services.
The Community Café fills a simple, human need—being part of a community. Contributions from participating seniors are accepted, and all are welcome.
“It isn’t the food I come for,” said Ellis. “It’s the people.”