Kent lunch program will keep on serving at senior center

Helena Reynolds gladly helped place the new sign board along East Smith Street to promote the weekday lunch at the Kent Senior Activity Center. Reynolds, a program coordinator at the city-owned senior center, continually looks for ways to let more people know about Kent Parks Deli & Cafe lunch deal to help keep it going.

Helena Reynolds

Helena Reynolds

Helena Reynolds gladly helped place the new sign board along East Smith Street to promote the weekday lunch at the Kent Senior Activity Center.

Reynolds, a program coordinator at the city-owned senior center, continually looks for ways to let more people know about Kent Parks Deli & Cafe lunch deal to help keep it going.

“We're here for all ages,” Reynolds said. “You don't have to be a senior.”

Kent City officials approved a $23,500 subsidy for the lunch program in 2011 to keep it operating. Consolidated Food Management, based on Mercer Island, contracts with the city to serve lunch from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The city’s contract guarantees Consolidated Food Management a minimum of 80 lunches per day. Any number fewer than that, the city pays for out of the general fund.

So senior center staff has come up with promotional signs as well as fundraisers to cover the deficit on days when fewer than 80 meals are sold.

Everett-based Mainmedia donated the 4-foot-high, A-board sign to advertise the deli along Smith Street. Lars Linder owns the company. He is the father of Erik Linder of the Erik and Rickie international dance duo, which has had a supportive relationship with the center.

The senior center conducted a fundraiser for the dancing pair last year. The duo then returned the favor and had two shows to help raise about $2,000 for the center's lunch program.

Linder also told Reynolds he would provide the street sign as well as a window sign at no cost to the city. Reynolds said the value of the signs is about $1,000.

Orval Dealy, a senior center member, told a City Council committee last year that a sign was needed to let the public know about the lunch. Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke had proposed cutting the lunch subsidy last spring as part of the city budget 2010 cuts, but the program was kept for the rest of the year.

City officials did not need to make any cuts in the 2011 budget, so the senior deli remained funded for another year.

“It's a service we wanted for the seniors and everyone in the community,” said City Council President Jamie Perry in a phone interview. “We had seniors who testified last year that it was good not only to have a home-cooked meal but to have access to a place to socialize in the community.”

The $6 lunch on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday includes choices of entrees, sandwiches, soups and salads as well as a beverage and dessert. The deli does not offer an entree on Wednesday, but sandwich, soup and salad can be bought for just $5.

Individuals can help support the program this year through donations. Two companies have agreed to pay $1,000 in a matching grant if the center raises $1,000.

“You can contribute to that fund at our front desk and get a tax deductible receipt,” Reynolds said. “No amount is too high or too low.”

Reynolds will track the donations with a weekly chart posted at the senior center. People also can donate by calling the center at 253-856-5150 weekdays and charging to their credit card.

The center also plans event fundraisers, including the Danny Vernon Illusions of Elvis show at noon March 25. Tickets are $7 and include a boxed lunch provided by Stafford Suites. Vernon is donating his time.

For more information about the Kent Parks Deli & Cafe, go to www.ci.kent.wa.us and search for deli.

What: Kent Parks Deli & Cafe

Where: Kent Senior Center, 600 E. Smith St.

When: 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

Cost: $6 lunch, entree, sandwiches, soups, beverage, dessert

Note: Nellie's Deli runs 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, no entree, cost $5


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