MySeniorCenter Fun Facts

Wednesday, November 1st, 2023

For kids, the benefits of eating a regular family meal are reflected in lower rates of depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, as well as higher self esteem. It's not just because the food tends to be healthier than takeout, it's about conversation and acceptance. The benefits can last a lifetime. For Seniors, there are the additional effects of reducing isolation, increasing trust, and staying in a regular nutrition routine.

People can have a great workout, or take a stimulating class and the good feeling they get might last an hour or so. When you meet new friends or catch up with someone over lunch, chances are those conversations will be replayed over and over for the rest of the day. Socialization matters, and eating with others is about the best way to do that. This article, published in Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology details the advantages of social eating and the impact on physical and mental health.

Pre-COVID, the popularity of the congregate meal had plateaued as Centers shifted away from socialization and nutrition and towards health and fitness. In 2022 and 2023, congregate meals have come back with a bang.

In this issue we'll dive into some of the data behind this revival, and have some fun with Thanksgiving statistics from across the Network and the internet.

Let's have a look.

Welcome to...Fun Facts - the
Eating With Friends


Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Here's a fun tidbit that we uncovered while researching this issue: the word companion derives from the Latin con, meaning together, and panem, meaning bread. We could easily have called this issue the Congregate Companions (we do love alliteration).

As mentioned above, congregate meals have not just picked up where they left off pre-COVID, but since October 2022, the number of monthly participants has far surpassed the rate in 2019. The isolation of COVID made many people realize how nice it is to be in a place where everybody knows your name.

Lean on Me

49% of Centers across the Network have some sort of an event scheduled for Thanksgiving this year (at some point in November). Thanksgiving Lunch/Luncheon/Dinner or Party were by far the most common names, but there were a few others worth noting:

Wish You Were Here

While the focus of this issue is the congregate meal, it's great to see there are still curbside pick-up, grab-and-go, and even grab-and-stay options. Roughly 30% of all Centers across the Network offered one of those alternatives to the congregate and home-delivered meal.

Slughtly more than half of congregate meal participants enjoy 3-4 meals per week at the Center, but there's another large group that comes just once or twice per month. As a result, the average number of meals per person, per month, might be lower that what you'd guess.

You've Got A Friend

Pre-COVID, the average age of people who attended lunch (lunchers) was almost a full year older than those who did not (non-lunchers). In 2023, that gap was reduced to 3 months. In our opinion, the most likely explanation is that missing out on socialization for a couple of years has made people appreciate it, and seek it out. It probably doesn't hurt that your food smells great too!

Another important benefit of a robust lunch program is that lunchers tend to participate in more programs than non-lunchers.

Happy Thanksgiving!

As you prepare to give thanks for all that is good in your life, please know that we are thankful for all that you do for the seniors in your community. Their lives are better because of you. And remember...

Next Month

There will be no Fun Facts next month as we take a break to spend time with family and friends. Keep an eye out, though, for a survey in early December about the size and layout of your Center. In 2024, we'd like to take many of the concepts we covered this year in Fun Facts and determine how physical plant attributes might have an impact.

Happy Holidays!