Forest Co. senior dining centers now include weekly meal at Laona restaurant Submitted: 07/10/2019
LAONA - A $3 "lunch special" fills almost every table at a Forest Co. restaurant every Wednesday.

A special group of diners pays that suggested donation, but it buys more than just a home cooked meal. It also brings together seniors for some much needed socialization.

For the past four weeks, JARS Bar and Grill in Laona has operated as a "senior dining site" for people sixty and older.

In Forest County, communal meals for seniors are usually served at community gathering places and senior centers. In Laona specifically, meals are only served on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

The Forest County Office of Aging extended the "My Meal, My Way" program to JARS Bar and Grill in hopes of expanding those options. 

"It offers more socialization," said Tammy Queen, Director of the Forest County Office of Aging. " People don't feel the stigma of a congregate meal site; I think people feel more relaxed. They can bring family, they can bring their grandchildren."

JARS Bar and Grills says they work with the Office on Aging to make sure meals are up to federal nutrition standards. 

Owner Jane Albrecht said she's happy to open her doors to seniors and see the program grow.

"It runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and we still have people here right at 1 o'clock. They don't just eat and run, so that was the whole idea behind it," said Albrecht. "So, I think we're successful."

Queen hopes to expand the "My Meal, My Way" program to restaurants in other communities by 2020. 

For now, seniors in Forest County are encouraged to call Peggy Alderton at (715) 889-3116 at least one day before Wednesday to RSVP for a meal at JARS. The menu always includes an entrée or chef's salad.

Only seniors in Laona can have food from JARS delivered to their homes through Meals on Wheels.

Story By: Stephen Goin

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