Congregate meal programs provided at senior centers offer several benefits. As the name suggests, a congregate meal program provides nutritious meals to people in a group setting. Most congregate meal programs are for people 60 and above. At JCAAA senior centers the meals are free of charge, but we give participants the opportunity to make a small donation of $2.50. We may offer activities during the meal such as games or informative guest speakers.
Congregate meals have the following benefits for people who participate:
Sense of Community
People who regularly participate in congregate meals feel a sense of community and connection with their peers. Research shows that people at any age are much more fulfilled when they are part of a group.
Seniors with a sense of purpose are happier, more fulfilled and healthier. Congregate meals give seniors a daily activity to look forward to. The social interaction provides an environment where peer to peer interaction takes place that leads to seniors becoming emotionally vested in the group. Seniors are able to contribute to other people’s lives on an individual and group basis leading to a great sense of purpose.
Positive Relationships Leading to Happiness
Healthy relationships formed during congregate meal times have been proven to decrease stress and loneliness.
Many seniors suffer from malnutrition because of unhealthy, unbalanced meals. Congregate meal plans are always hot and nutritious and meet nutritional standards. Seniors who come for the great conversation and activities will also get a well-balanced and great tasting meal.
As you can see there are several benefits of congregate meal programs at senior centers. The emotional and physical benefits these programs provide have a real impact on the seniors who participate in them.