Senior Center meals going out without a hitch

Senior Program Manager Karin Bennett has one place, she said, for church services, food preparation, dining and work.

“I have one table in my house, so this is it,” she said Monday.

Ms. Bennett has been busy working from home. She works for the town’s Senior Center programs, including the Senior Nutrition Program, providing hot and well-balanced meals for the Island’s elderly. Since the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced home isolation for all Islanders, all meals have been delivered, which has been a godsend for many of the Island’s oldest residents.

Ms. Bennett organizes volunteers who prepare the food and deliver it, working with Senior Center Director Laurie Fanelli, and  Sara Mundy, a staffer at the Center who has  taken on a larger role helping coordinate those looking for ways to help their neighbors.

When the meals are ready to go, volunteer drivers go out into the community to deliver them to residents. “The drivers all have masks and gloves, which they change frequently,” Ms. Bennett said. “We have plenty of them.”

Those getting a home delivery are asked to place a chair or a table on their porches or outside their doors, where the volunteers can leave the meals, and the seniors can leave a donation if they wish.

“The drivers always wait until they come out, maintaining a good distance, to say ‘Hello,’ and a few words, which is so important,” Ms. Bennett said. “It’s really important to the drivers, too.”

There’s been no shortage of food for the programs, and last week the Center worked with the Shelter Island Action Alliance, a newly-formed organization that takes donations to pay local restaurants for meals to be delivered to the staffs at Eastern Long Island and Stony Brook Southampton hospitals. The Alliance also will help to fund meals prepared by local restaurants for seniors or those in need on the Island. For more information on how to make donations,  write to [email protected] or 631-806-5458 (Brett Surerus) or 646-415-2792 (Alex Graham).

“The first restaurant we used with the Alliance was The Islander, and it was very nice,” Ms. Bennett said, adding that Ashley Knight, the  owner and manager of restaurant, was extremely helpful. Mary Lou Eichhorn, owner of Cornucopia, added Easter candies for all the recipients.

“There have been no real hitches,” in the food programs, Ms. Bennett said. “The volunteers have been wonderful and everyone has been so generous.”