Royal Oak senior center looks forward to future

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published June 23, 2020

File photo by Deb Jacques

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ROYAL OAK — On March 11, the Mahany-Meininger Senior Community Center held its highest-grossing lunch program to date — a special pop-up collaboration with Redford-based Ackroyd’s Scottish Bakery.

The day before, Michigan reported its first two cases of COVID-19, and the global pandemic suddenly became jarringly local. By the end of March, the center had stopped serving meals and discontinued its curbside pickup service altogether.

Chef Erin Koch said the senior community center had to turn people away due to capacity limits for the March 11 pop-up event, and she had anticipated spreading the word about the unique meal service that is not just about feeding seniors — all residents of all ages are welcome to purchase a meal for under $4.

The pop-up lunch program featured a meat pie, mac and cheese, and a blueberry scone with homemade jam. Many older diners said they remembered the fare from their younger years.

“We’re a third-generation, female-owned bakery, and we’ve been open for 71 years,” said co-owner Joe Hakim. “We ship nationwide, and we’re one of the only Scottish bakeries in the country.”

While COVID-19 temporarily grounded the budding endeavor, Koch said her kitchen fully anticipates serving the greater Royal Oak population again, with more pop-up partnerships planned for the future.

Now, however, the focus is the safety of senior citizens — one of the most vulnerable and at-risk populations when it comes to the novel coronavirus.

“We fall under the Parks and Recreation Department of the city of Royal Oak,” Koch said. “Basically, all of the programming stopped and, most recently, we’re going to a modified virtual class system in July, starting with some fitness and cooking classes.”

On June 17, the city of Royal Oak resumed its transportation program. Appointments can be made by calling the senior center between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at (248) 246-3900. Although the senior community center remains closed to the public, employees remain able to assist.

Koch said a July newsletter will go out to interested residents about the virtual offerings provided by the senior community center. To subscribe, call (248) 246-3900 to provide an email address and to request upcoming services for the future, or visit the Royal Oak Parks & Recreation Facebook page for updates on virtual classes.

She said the lunch program may once again be offered via curbside pickup after Labor Day.

“Everything is still being discussed and carefully approached. Transportation (for senior citizens) is one of our top priorities,” Koch said. “We miss all of our seniors’ faces, stories and the times we share with them.”

When the lunch program resumes, Koch said she is looking forward to serving quick, efficient, nutritious and balanced meals.

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