It’s the best kept secret on the Island. That’s how I felt after my first Dinner Bell luncheon at the Presbyterian Church last Friday.
The program is funded by SCOFA (Suffolk County Office for the Aging), NYSOFA (New York State Office for the Aging) and the Town of Shelter Island. It is managed by Karin Bennett, who prepares the meals with help from her staff, Diane Anderson and Angela Corbett. They are assisted by a host of volunteers.
I have to admit that I entered with a certain amount of trepidation. I was just not sure how the food would taste or how friendly the people would be. Having survived nearly 40 years of boarding school food, I figured I could handle it.
What a surprise! The food was great and the people were friendly. I sat at a table with Mark and Vivian Lindemann, Wade Badger and Ralph and Joan Bishop. The feeling of fellowship was palpable. I was welcomed and made to feel at ease.
Milk and V8 juice were served. A plated meal followed — no buffet here — of fish cakes with a lemon sauce, rice and peas and sliced carrots. The salad was family-style as was the bread. The bread was crusty and of good quality. Matzos were included for the Passover holiday along with chocolate eggs. Ice cream sundaes were offered for dessert and there was an endless supply of coffee.
The fine presentation and service was matched by high-quality, nutritious and tasty food.
The folks at my table explained that word of mouth was the best way to get Island seniors to come to these events. I learned that some do not come because of feeling (incorrectly) that it is a soup kitchen. It’s far from it.
As Karin said, “It’s just as much about socialization as it is about nutrition.”
That sense was evident in the types of pre-prandial activities. Announcements were made about upcoming senior activities such as residential repair services, a presentation by Marianne Baird on origami at the Women’ s Community Club and the next shredder visit to the Island.
Bill Siebert and Robert Strugats each told a joke. Everyone said the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a rousing rendition of “God Bless America” with Linda Betjeman on the piano.
Karin and her staff prepare and serve lunches on Mondays and Fridays all year. Call ahead for reservations at 749-0291. The donation is $4 and is just that — a donation. If you do not have it, you still get to eat. No questions asked. Meals are also available for homebound seniors and will be delivered by prior arrangement.
I urge all seniors to give this “other restaurant” a try. You are in for a treat.