Cafe 60 reaches out to baby boomers: Elder Care program offered in participating restaurants

Nutritious meals and the opportunity to meet new people  are among the reasons they participate in the program, administered by Elder Care.

“Cafe 60 is a pilot program that we created in restaurants so we could offer more meals to seniors ages 60 and older,” Elder Care executive director Colleen Rodakowski said.

Elder care  is funded through the  Older American Act and operated by the North Dakota Department of Human Services-Aging Services.

Elder Care has 18 congregate meal sites in southwestern North Dakota — often associated with a senior center. The number of meals served each week at the sites varies, and participants have one meal choice.

“Surveys show a majority of baby boomers are not going to the senior centers because the numbers are dropping —  they want menu choices and different times of the day,” she said.

Elder Care categorizes its participants into traditionalists, born before 1945 and the baby boomers born from 1946 to 1964.

“What’s happening is the traditionalists who welcomed our elder care programs are passing away or entering nursing homes and assisted living facilities, but the void is not filling with baby boomers,” she said.

Trying to reach baby boomers, Elder Care staff  learned that communities on the East Coast are doing something similar to Cafe 60.

“We did the research and we created the pilot program for the state,” Rodakowski said.

Hawks Point provides assisted living services in Dickinson, but has opened its dining room to the Cafe 60 program. Guests present their voucher cards and ask for the Cafe 60 menu.

The Cafe 60 menu choices at Hawks Point include meal combos such as a hamburger with the trimmings, pared with French fries, pickle spear, fruit, milk, coffee and water. And that’s one choice. There are a total of eight meal combos for lunch/dinner and five for breakfast.

The participant is asked to pay $4 for a meal if they can afford it. Otherwise, the meal is subsidized by the program, Rodakowski said.

Interested individuals are asked to fill out an application,  including name, age, medications, description of any nutritional challenges, etc. The application is submitted to the Elder Care office who issues the vouchers.

People may eat at the participating restaurants any time they are open — the exception is Hawks Point that serves Cafe 60 menus Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Jerry and Donna Wahl like to order meals at Hawks Point whenever they don’t  want to cook or wish to meet friends who live there.

They like the program because of the menu choices and flexibility of times.

“The service is very good — they are so kind and the food is good because you choose what you want to eat,” Donna said. “ Today for lunch, Jerry chose an omelette and I chose the special — a turkey wrap.”

A retired chemist, Robert Todd lived at Hawks Point when his wife, Betty Jo, was still alive. After the economy went down and he still  hadn’t sold his house, he moved back home. However, he doesn’t like eating alone.

“I come probably three or four times a week — the other days I go to Villard Terrace because I know some people there too,” Todd said. “I usually sit with somebody I know. You don’t have to cook one meal and you can’t beat the price.”

Hawks Point director of food services Mechelle McFarland encourages those age 60 and older to join them for a meal.

“You get out and socialize and have restaurant-quality food — the food here is exceptional,” she said.

Cafe 60 is another option offered by Elder Care. It continues to provide meals at the congregate meal sites and to deliver meals to homebound participants.

Elder Care’s mission is to provide support services (nutrition and transit services) to the elderly, which gives them the option of remaining in their own homes and to help them maintain a sense of independence and better quality of life. These services, including transit services for the general public, are provided within the constraints of financial resources.

“As director of Elder Care, I am so committed to the elderly remaining in their homes as long as they can,” Rodakowski said.

For more information about any of the Elder Care programs, call the office at 701-456-1818.

Cafe 60 meal sites.

Buzzy’s Cafe, 27 South Central Avenue, Beach, N.D.

Hawk’s Point, 1266 Signal Butte, Dickinson

JabBr’s Restaurant, Highway 12, Bowman

JodeO’s Cafe, 119 Main Street, Halliday

4 Corners Cafe, 2000 Highway 85 SW, Fairfield

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