COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The end of a meal program in Colorado Springs that gives seniors free food and a chance to socialize has some community members worried.
Silver Key is closing down eight sites that served nutritious hot meals to people over 60 for free.
“Having a local place down the road where you feel safe, comfortable, you get a nutritious meal, you can socially, you can relax, it does a lot for your physical health, sense of well-being, of your sense of community,” Brian Kates from the Meadow Park Community Center said.
Silver Key worked with the city to have 20 sites like this around town. Now they will have only 12, including the Meadows Park Community Center.
There are two types of sites in this program. Sites in assisted living homes are open just for those who live there. At the sites in community centers, any seniors in the neighborhood can get a hot meal and socialize.
They say the main reason the open sites are closing is because they were unpredictable.
Lonnie Miera is advocating for the programs to stay. He said it’s not just about the food. It’s more than that.
“If we lose one program out the center another is going to follow right behind it,” Miera said. “I don’t want that to happen. With my voice, I am hoping to do some good.”
Miera was a big advocate for opening the site in the first place. He said these community sites that were open to the public served more than just seniors, but also single moms and their kids.
The city and Silver Key are working with other local organizations to keep them going in a different way, but Lonnie said change is hard, especially for seniors.
“That’s not fair,” Miera said. “They are not comfortable leaving their area. They want to stay in their area. They feel safe, and want to stay here.”
The community centers are hoping to find restaurants, culinary arts programs, or other nonprofits to help keep the meals going. There will be a public meeting at the Meadows Park Community Center on July 10 at 10 a.m. to brainstorm ideas and see what organizations would be willing to contribute.
If no alternative plan is reached, the meal services at the eight sites will end July 12.