Seniors can get together again for midday meals at Montezuma County senior centers in Cortez, Mancos and Dolores.
The dining halls were closed for up to a year because of the pandemic, and meals had to be delivered or picked up to go.
“We’re so happy to have our seniors back,” said Linda Germaine, a site coordinator for the Montezuma County Senior Center in Cortez. “Many in the community have not seen each other for a year.”
The pandemic restrictions were especially isolating for seniors, said diner Shirley Martinez.
“It can get lonely,” she said. “Seeing friends is why we come here, and it’s nice to eat someone else’s cooking.”
The Cortez location at 107 N. Chestnut St. is serving indoor dining meals on Mondays and Wednesdays, starting at 11:30 a.m. Beginning May 10, the center will add Fridays as well for indoor dining.
More activities such as bingo and movies are expected to return in May, Germaine said.
County senior centers adjusted meal operations for pandemic safety, said director Jon Parker, and the plans were reviewed and approved by the Montezuma County Health Department.
Indoor diners are asked to call 970-564-2772 the day before attending. There is a cap of 20 people for indoor dining. Only 10 to 15 are showing up in Cortez, so there is room for more.
Upon entering the dining hall, diners must wear masks, and everyone has their temperature taken. Everyone uses a hand sanitizer station upon entering. After they are served a meal and sit down to eat they can remove their masks. Groups are spread out more as a precaution.
When indoor dining resumed in early April, it was like a reunion, said Parker.
“There was so much excitement and chatter, people really missed their friends,” he said. “We made it a safe, comfortable place to return to.”
Before the pandemic, 25 to 30 diners would regularly get together for the meal at the Cortez location.
Meals for seniors were provided during the pandemic through delivery via Meals on Wheels program, Parker said, and that trend is continuing.
“Home delivery is becoming more permanent, and we need more volunteer drivers,” he said.
The senior center delivers 60 to 70 meals per day, up from 40 per day before the pandemic.
In Dolores, seniors can have a midday meal and socialize Mondays and Wednesdays at the Dolores Community Center, 400 E. Riverside Ave.
In Mancos, midday meals are served for indoor dining Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Masonic Lodge at 141 E. Montezuma Ave.
For more information about senior center services, call 970-565-4166 or visit their website at montezumacounty.org.