The Senior Center in Fredonia is well loved by its visitors and attendees for a number of reasons - perhaps the greatest of which is the homemade fresh meals provided every day. Sonya Kimball, the Center’s director and head chef, has years of experience in the food service industry - she’s cooked at Houston’s Trail’s End, Frostop and more in the years beyond that - and she puts that experience to work serving the older folks of the Fredonia area. “They sure appreciate us out here,” says Kimball. “Especially since COVID we have lots of people calling us up and thanking us for what we do.” She’s been working with the Senior Center for twenty-nine years.
The Senior Center feeds an average of around forty people a day, providing a full meal for four dollars for qualifying seniors. According to the staff, those numbers are trending a little higher since COVID isolation, “on busier days we’ll feed around seventy people.”
According to Brooke Kimball of the senior center staff - and Sonya’s daughter-in-law, hence the shared name - “We were delivering around seventy meals a day during COVID, but nobody came into the center. We’re still trying to recover the people who come and eat in; it’s slowed down a lot as people have gotten into the habit of staying home.” The Senior Center is funded by private donations and government programs - some of which rely on in-person attendance numbers. One of the ways the Center is still working on recovery from the COVID era is restoring those eat-in numbers for the sake of remaining valid for those grants.
For qualifying seniors, eating in costs just four dollars for a meal, “and they’re huge portions too, it’s not just some cafeteria food or microwave dinner,” says Brooke. Non-senior visitors can come eat-in too, for eight dollars instead. According to the Kimballs, it’s significantly cheaper than having the food delivered, “of course we still deliver to anywhere in our service area, but the prices of those deliveries have gone way up with the prices of gas and paperware.”
“We’ll keep delivering,” says Sonya. “When we deliver to homebound folks, it’s more than just a food service - it’s a chance to check on people who aren’t always regularly checked on. We’ve had times when we were the ones to call an ambulance when something wasn’t right with someone. It’s one of the best and worst parts of this job: I’ve had a lot of amazing friends, and I’ve lost a lot of amazing friends.”
The social element of the center is one of its focuses beyond good nutrition. It provides access to board games, puzzles, virtual sports, exercise equipment - check out fitness classes on Thursday mornings! - and even live entertainment on occasion. According to Sonya, one of the highlights of working at the center is the holiday festivities. “Our Seniors often get dressed up and come have a good time - they love Christmas dinner, Thanksgiving and St. Patrick’s Day.”
Some of the Valentine’s festivities will be featured along with this piece, and the Center staff invited anyone interested to attend the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. In the conclusion of the interview, Sonya said, “We want to give a big thank you to the Town of Fredonia and its administration; a lot of the reason this place is still functioning is because of the support of the town and the Town Office.”
In addition to the funding straight from the town budget, the Town Office also accepts private donations from those looking to contribute to the Senior Center’s operations.