‘I don’t have to eat alone’: Senior lunches draw crowd in Lucama

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Naomi Moore, a participant in the congregate meals program at Lucama Crossroads Community Center in Lucama, transports meals for herself and a friend. Drew C. Wilson | Times
Naomi Moore, a participant in the congregate meals program at Lucama Crossroads Community Center in Lucama, transports meals for herself and a friend. Drew C. Wilson | Times

LUCAMA — It has long been known that socially engaged older adults live longer lives.

That belief is consecrated five days a week at the Lucama Crossroads Community Center when folks gather at lunches, thanks to the Wilson County Office of Senior Affairs.

“It’s very important to me because I live by myself,” said Naomi Moore. “It breaks the monotony during the day to get out and do something during the day and be with other people and have good food.”

Moore, 90, is the currently the oldest participant of the dinners subsidized by the Upper Coastal Plains Wilson Office of Senior Citizens Affairs and the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services.

“Everyone needs to have someone to talk to,” Moore said. “They go down faster if they didn’t have anywhere to go or anyone to talk to. They have a lot of friends out here. They have people out here that they make friends with, that they didn’t know until they started coming out here.”

Moore said she wishes more people would participate in the mealtime.

According to Gloria Galloway, assistant site manager, 20 to 21 seniors participate in the meals that are prepared at Wilson Medical Center.

“Of all of the outlets, we have the largest service,” Galloway said.

Most of the patrons are from Lucama, but other comes from Black Creek and some from Wilson. The only requirement is they have to live in Wilson County and have to be at least 60 years old.

“A lot of them are in their 80s and 90s here,” Galloway said. “They don’t have any other place to go.”

The meals don’t cost anything, but patrons are encouraged to make a $1 donation.

“If you don’t have it, you don’t get a refusal,” Galloway said.

The community center, located at 503 S. Main St., is owned by the town of Lucama and rented out for special events at other times when the senior meal is not being served.

“People rent it out for parties, showers and reunions,” Galloway said. “I think the Girl Scouts and 4-H’ers still use it too.”

The center is directly adjacent to the Lucama park, where there is a walking track, picnic area with tables and a playground with swings and slides.

Nearby Lucama Elementary School will occasionally take its students across the street to the park for cookouts and to play.

The community center opens for seniors from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Lunch is served at 11:30 a.m. when participants line up and get their plates and sit down and eat.

“Everybody that’s able pitches in and helps clean,” said Ann Little, who helps serve the meals.

Little’s whole family has come to eat the meals.

“My mother, father, brother, husband and myself all have participated in this,” Little said.

“I think it started sometimes in the 1970s,” Little said.

“My father started coming in ’78.”

Little said it gives her a chance to socialize.

“I don’t have to eat alone,” Little said. “I can come here and socialize with these people. We are like a big family. This is a wonderful group we have here. I wish more people would take interest in it. I surely do.”

There are other events for the seniors, too.

“We do bingo every Wednesday, and we have a little auction on the second and fourth Mondays,” Little said. The events start at 10:30.

Bobby Barnes, 80, comes every day the community center is open for a meal, in part because he is not a cook.

Barnes said he enjoys the company and knows most of the participants.

“We’ve grown up around them, and in a way we are kind of kin to one another because we have been around them most of the time,” Barnes said.

For more information about the program, call the Wilson County Office of Senior Citizens Affairs in Lucama at 252-239-0908.

Home deliveries are also available for those who qualify through Wilson County Office of Senior Affairs.