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More than lunch
Turlock Senior Center Café welcomes community members
Turlock Senior Center Cafe 1
Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak (pictured far right) makes an appearance at the grand opening of the new Turlock Senior Center Cafe on Monday, conversating and playing games with community members taking advantage of the new lunch program (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

Monday marked the very first day of operation for the brand new Turlock Senior Center Café at 1191 Cahill St. The café is the 12th of its kind in Stanislaus County and the second in Turlock, alongside the Turlock Salvation Army location. Monday’s grand opening event saw city officials welcome local seniors to a free lunch, something that will continue to be offered as part of the Stanislaus County Senior Luncheon program.

Among many of the attendees on Monday was Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak and Stanislaus County District 2 Supervisor Vito Chiesa. Chiesa spoke to the crowd about the collaborative efforts between he and Bublak to help make the new program a reality.

“Senior meals went away during COVID and there’s been many people calling me… When the Mayor called me and made me aware of the issue, I was more than happy to help get the ball rolling on this,” Chiesa said. “To finally see this new space open is really great for our community.”

Those eligible for free lunches are seniors aged 60 years or older, their spouses of any age or disabled, dependent adults who reside with and attend lunch with a senior. Guests under the age of 60 are welcome but must pay a full meal price of $6.

Karen Valek of the Turlock Senior Citizens organization explained that the new lunch program is one of their many efforts aimed at giving local seniors a place to socialize while giving them healthy meals.

“This is just one of the many things we do for our seniors,” Valek explained. “Seniors have the opportunity to sit down and hang out with others over a nice meal. We’re really trying to focus on healthy and nutritious meals for our guests.”

Each day, the center will serve a different meal. At a glance, these include turkey sandwiches, tuna and chicken salads, spaghetti and meat balls, beef macaroni casserole, spilt pea and ham soup, fruits and vegetables.

The Senior Center Café will be open Monday through Wednesday, with doors to the center opening at 10:30 a.m. and lunches scheduled to be served between 11:30 a.m. to noon. Valek believes that it is a perfect time for seniors participating in activities at the Senior Center to swing by.

“If they are participating in some of the daily activities we offer, it’s great and pretty convenient for them to come on over in between sessions, before they leave for the day, or before they show up for the day’s later activities,” she said.

Some of the activities that the Senior Center is offering throughout the week include bingo, billiards, quilting, line dancing, dominoes, chorus, ukulele, exercising and more. Valek said that community members do not need to participate in daily Senior Center activities to show up for a free meal and have fun as the café provides several games for guests to play as they wait for their meals.

One local community member who is taking advantage of the program is Joe Calderon. Calderon explained that his daughter encouraged him to swing by for a free meal and join in on the fun.

“This is really nice what they’re doing,” he said. “This is my first time coming here because my daughter told me about it… These are really great meals and good people here.”

While the Senior Center Café is only open for three days out of the week, Turlock Parks, Recreation & Public Facilities Supervisor Karen Packwood explained that this could change depending on the demand.

“We are super excited that we here at the Senior Center will be one of the two locations in Turlock,” Packwood said. “If it’s successful and you guys continue to come and tell your friends to come, there is a chance that we can expand to Thursdays and Fridays as well.”

Though none are required, reservations are encouraged by at least one day in advance. To make a reservation for a lunch at the new Senior Center Café or for more information regarding the program, call (209) 480-4381.