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story.lead_photo.caption Kenny Shaw fills a to-go container to be carried outside for a client who may pull up at Clarke Senior Nutrition Center for the meal. Shaw works for the program, which receives funding from Aging Best. Individuals do not have to get out of their vehicle; just pull up and wait for a volunteer to carry out the prepared food. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

Dining in is still not an option at Cole County's two senior nutrition centers because of COVID-19, but the centers' carry-out and home delivery service continues.

Center Administrator Nathan Baysinger said the number of meals being served is down a bit, but a good portion of the centers' regulars are still coming to pick up meals.

There are two senior nutrition centers in Jefferson City run by the Senior Nutrition Council of Jefferson City and Cole County: the West Point Senior Center at 2701 W. Main St., Suite 101, and the Clarke Senior Center at 1310 Linden Drive.

Cole County's nutrition centers are partnered with the nonprofit Aging Best — formerly the Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging. Aging Best suspended congregate meals and activities at its partner senior centers March 16 because of the pandemic.

That means in addition to no dining-in, there are also no activities being offered at the centers, such as the usual tai chi, bridge or bingo.

Baysinger said the seniors the centers serve have the same anxieties as anyone — and because they're in the most at-risk age group for COVID-19 — but it seems they are doing well, and staff make regular phone calls to check up on them.

People want to see each other again, and "if they see each other in the parking lot, they'll usually chat through car windows," Baysinger said.

Only agency staff and volunteers for the Meals 4 U home delivery service are being allowed inside the buildings.

As for the plan going forward, Baysinger said Aging Best has to wait until the state begins accepting reopening action plans, and once approved, the centers could reopen for in-person services and activities.

Financially, he said, supporter United Way of Central Missouri committed to giving at the same rate as in 2019, and the centers also received some federal aid.

Baysinger said ways people or businesses in the community can help include reaching out to the Senior Nutrition Council of Jefferson City and Cole County to offer socially-distanced fundraising ideas or volunteering as home delivery drivers.

The best way contact the council is by phone at 573-634-8020.

More information is available at facebook.com/seniorsrockJCMO.

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