MORRIS – Dennis McComas said he and his wife “never miss” the Community Cafe meals held at Saratoga Tower, but he especially looks forward to the one meal a year where he can mingle with Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick.
“Me and him go way back,” McComas said. “I’ve known him for years. It’s nice to get to see him again.”
McComas had a chance to eat and chat with Kopczick and other local leaders – including Diamond Mayor Terry Kernc – at the annual March for Meals Community Champions event held Wednesday morning at Saratoga Tower.
March for Meals is a month-long campaign organized by the Meals On Wheels Association of America. In conjunction with the national event, the Grundy County Community Nutrition Network hosts a special event locally.
For the event, the two mayors, First Midwest Bank President Tom Tesdal, WCSJ Program Director Kevin Schramm and representatives from the Grundy County United Way and Grundy County Housing Authority served a catered meal to about 50 local seniors. After serving, the officials sat down to eat with the seniors.
This is the eighth year of the local event, which is intended to garner support for CNN and bring attention to hungry seniors, CNN Regional Coordinator Diane Bumgarner said.
“We want to bring awareness to senior hunger and for more people to know about our program,” Bumgarner said. “We get these community leaders to come and it helps get the word out that our program is available.”
CNN holds community meals every day at Saratoga Tower and on select days in Coal City, Mazon, Diamond and Minooka. CNN suggests seniors give a donation of $6 for the meal, but Bumgarner said no senior will be turned away because he or she cannot pay.
Seniors who have to travel to a meal can have their transit paid for by CNN through a partnership with Grundy County Transit System.
The Wednesday and Friday meals are usually the most popular because they are catered and have activities, such as raffles and bingo games.
“It’s nice for getting together with your friends and the food is usually pretty good,” local senior Nancy Thornsburg said. “Oh, and we like to play bingo after we eat.”
This Wednesday’s event was a little more crowded than usual, Bumgarner said, because it was a special event with the presence of local officials and a gift basket raffle donated by the housing authority.
Kernc is a regular, volunteering to serve at every community meal in Coal City and others in the area.
“I love our seniors,” Kernc said. “They’re important members of our community so it’s good to get to see them.”
Kopczick also is a community meal veteran and has served at the event almost every year.
“A lot of the folks here at the tower were former customers of mine in my previous life,” Kopczick said. “It’s always a great opportunity to catch up and chat with them ... they love to whip some grief on me.”