Some older Westporters can’t shop or cook for themselves.
Some can, but want companionship for their meals.
Other residents are happy to help.
Quietly — but quite efficiently — Westport’s Senior Center meals program provides tasty, nutritious food.
In a wide variety of ways.
Paulina Przybysz’s is “nutrition program coordinator.” That dry title does not convey the spiciness and zest of the work she oversees.
The first of the 3 prongs is home-delivered meals. Available to homebound residents 60 and older, the program allows them to live at home.
A cold lunch or hot dinner — or both — is delivered Monday through Friday (with extras for weekends and holidays), between 10 a.m. and noon.
There are options for hot and cold meals; special or therapeutic diets (for example, diabetic, bland, chopped or puréed), and requests like no pork or beef.
Eighteen volunteers — all vetted — handle deliveries (3 to 6 are needed each day). A typical route takes about 45 minutes, with 5 to 8 stops.
Drivers use their own vehicles, and pay for their own gas. (Some towns with similar programs have to hire drivers.)
If a recipient is not home, the driver calls Paulina. She follows up, to make sure the resident is okay.
The biggest challenge is when bad weather makes deliveries impossible. Seniors are urged to have canned goods on hand for those emergencies. (If the weather eases, drivers may head out later in the day.)
The program is federally funded. There is no cost to anyone covered by The Title III Older Americans Act.
Seniors with more mobility enjoy congregate lunches at the Center. Served weekdays at noon in large, bright Sue’s Café — named for longtime, recently retired Senior Center director Sue Pfister — this is a chance to socialize over a meal.
Creative Catering of Norwalk prepares both the congregate and home delivered meals. Chef Luis is “very accommodating,” Paulina says.
He arrives at 9:30 a.m. to prepare fresh food in the Senior Center kitchen. Congregate meals include soup, an entrée and dessert, all prepared under federal nutrition guidelines. (There’s an option to order a chef ‘s salad or cheese omelet too.)
The usual crowd is about 30, though Thursday bingo and special events like a Hanukkah lunch draw more. Just before Christmas, an elementary school chorus sang.
In the works: A Valentine’s Day “heart healthy” meal.
The congregate lunch program is also federally funded. There is no cost, though a donation of $5 to $7 per meal is suggested.
The third program is called “Hello Neighbor.” Begun during the pandemic, when seniors felt particularly isolated, it connects people who need help shopping (or a friendly phone call) with Westporters who can provide either (or both).
Participants are matched by interests — gardening, say, or reading.
“Every day is different,” Paulina says of her 3 programs. “But the seniors are so appreciative of everything.”
For more information on the Senior Center meals programs — including how to participate or volunteer — contact Paulina by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (203-341-5097).
(From senior citizens to seniors in high school — and every other age group — “06880” covers Westport. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)
I was happy to be part of the start of hot lunches at the Y in the 70’s. Started by the Westport young womens league. So glad to see,now it’s evolved!
WoW! Westport is awesome- correction, the people in Westport are awesome!
Dan, this is so great. I did not know about this town service.
I am a driver one day a week for Home Delivered Meals. The program’s success is due in large part to Paulin’s had work and dedication to running it so effectively.