Over the age of 6o? Dine on the county’s dime

The Enterprise — Sean Mulkerrin

Come for the ambiance, stay for the free food: Senior citizens came to Hungerford Market and Café in Altamont recently to sign up for a county program that will allow them to eat for free at 11 area restaurants. 

ALTAMONT — The senior citizens who showed up to Hungerford Market on Wednesday, July 10, to sign up for Albany County’s Go & Dine program were, without knowing it, among the last lucky few eligible for enrollment. In barely more than a week since the program had been announced, 1,300 seniors — the county’s enrollment cap — had signed up.  

It’s a bit of good news/not-so-good news situation for the county.

“So many people are reaching out to enroll in the program — we didn’t expect [this much] popularity,” Albany County spokesman Cameron Sagan said. The $250,000 federal grant (half of a $500,000 grant split with Erie County) allows Albany County to provide four free meals a month to 1,300 senior citizens. 

Sagan said that Go & Dine is a pilot to test how well the program addresses social isolation among senior citizens; it runs until Aug. 31, 2020. He added that the program is also targeted toward low-income individuals as well as individuals living in rural areas. 

“With this innovative pilot program, I believe we can help to address … something that will affect the lives of a third of all older residents,” Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said in a statement. “This is not just a mental health problem linked to depression; it’s also been associated with a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. So we really want to get our seniors out of the house, and have some fun with friends and family at some of the best restaurants Albany County has to offer.”

The program is also in partnership with the New York State Office for the Aging, Sagan said, so, theoretically, if the pilot is successful, there is the potential that the state would fund the program.

The meals have to meet specific federal guidelines for nutritional value, Sagan said, which are laid out in the grant. 

So far, 11 restaurants have signed on to the program: Hungerford Market in Altamont; Emma Cleary’s in New Scotland; Tesoro’s in Guilderland; Allie B’s Cozy Kitchen in Albany; Elevation Burger in Latham; Lazeez in Albany; Mamoun’s in Albany; Martel’s in Albany; Trackside Pizza and More in Ravena; Bob’s Diner in Watervliet; and Shaker Pointe Restaurant in Watervliet.

“I think it’s a great program and I’m glad to be a part of it,” said Jean Conklin, owner of Hungerford Market. 

Hungerford’s breakfast options include: quiche, served with a bagel or toast; smoked salmon on a bagel; or an egg sandwich with bacon, sausage, or ham on a bagel or croissant. All breakfast options are served with yogurt and a side of fruit. 

Lunch options include: grilled ham and cheese; a tuna melt; a tossed salad; or a sandwich with either turkey, ham, tuna, or chicken salad. 

More Community news

  • ALTAMONT — All members of St. John’s Lutheran Church are invited to meet the pastoral candidate on Saturday, July 24, from 3 to 5 p.m., in the church’s Fellowship Hall at 140 Maple Ave. in Altamont.

    On Sunday, July 25, the candidate will officiate at a call to worship service at 9:30 a.m.  

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