Yes, there is such a thing as a free lunch, even though in this case there’s a catch with a significant difference.
That catch is camaraderie, a sumptuous meal and a feeling of belonging, provided you’re a senior aged 60 “or better,” according to the Greater Marco Family YMCA and the Family Church’s Our Daily Bread Food Pantry.
The two organizations have collaborated on an ongoing monthly initiative to bring together seniors of all standings to enjoy the lunch sessions, which will be provided by assorted Marco restaurants for free.
And, should participants feel the need, they’ll be welcome to take home baskets of food items collected by Our Daily Bread Food Pantry.
“We had lots of conversations, and decided to tap a group of folks looking for opportunities to socialize, or who may be in need,” said Nancy Kot, the Pantry’s volunteer coordinator.
Kot, along with prolific Y volunteer and former president Allyson Richards, the Pantry’s community coordinator Liz Pecora, and Pantry operations coordinator Jo Anne Lundquist, are the key brains trust behind the initiative.
It is believed to be a first for the area, and maybe beyond.
“It aligns perfectly with Our Daily Bread Food Pantry initiative,” said Pecora. “Outreach is one of our primary goals, and we’re pleased to offer this.”
The outreach philosophy also gels perfectly with one of the Marco Y’s priority goals. Not only does it service the island, but also Goodland, the Isles of Capri and parts of East Naples.
This includes activities for youth and adults, after school educational and physical activities, and at the moment assorted summer camps at various locations.
“I was working (previously) with the Pantry and Nancy,” said Richards, “and we decided on this collaboration. The first one is July 20 at the Family Church (11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.), and if necessary we can pick people up and bring them back home afterwards.
“We’re also going to have door prizes, some sort of fun activities and also tai chi (stretching exercises),” Richards said.
“We love this collaboration,” said Lundquist. “We think we’ve found a gap with seniors, and it’s been great working together to help them.”
First restaurant to step forward is Crazy Flamingo, followed by Nacho Mama’s whose owners Eric and Nancy Phillips jumped at the opportunity, Richards said.
For more information on the Marco Y’s wide variety of programs for youth and adults, visit marcoymca.org or call 394-3144.
If you go:
What: Lunch, Fun & Fellowship
When: Third Thursday of every month
Time: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Who: Seniors, age 60 “or better”
Cost: Free (Y members and non-members)
RSVP: Call Nancy 706-566-8532