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Nutrition Center provides a haven for seniors

Located on East Washington Street adjacent to the West Alabama Transportation Center is the West Alabama Nutrition Center, a place for senior citizens to go to for a lunch, fun and fellowship.

Although it still serves lunches five days a week for a donation of $1,25, the center has become much more for its patrons.

“Besides the nutrition part of it — the meal that they get — we have different activities that we do,” said Tyana Dixon, the manager of the center. “We have game areas, where we play different games. We have people come here from the community, such as police officers. Recently, Deputy Tommy Reece came in and talked to the seniors realize what Project: Lifesaver was all about.

“What I’m trying to help create here at the center is an environment where the seniors don’t have to feel like they’ve been forgotten. A lot of times, we think about the youth and forget about the seniors.”

Dixon has a game area where seniors can not only enjoy playing the games, but they also keep their minds working.

“One of the things that I like to do is make them think,” Dixon said. “We have games, such as Connect Four and WordPhrase, where I give them a word, and they’ve got to figure out what it is.”

The center also provide seniors with a means of honing their bodies as well as their minds.

“We have exercises, because some of them aren’t exercising,” Dixon said.

The addition of the fun and fellowship to the Nutrition Center have been popular enhancements with the seniors.

“Overall, they feel like the center is better,” Dixon said, “because they don’t just come and sit and eat. It’s a bigger environment now. On our last outing, we took them to Meridian, and we did a dinner and a movie. Some of them don’t have family members here, so they aren’t able to do that, because they don’t have anyone to take them. We ate at Cracker Barrel, then we went to see a movie. Some walked in the mall, and the others went to the movie. That was a big outing for them.

“One other trip we made was when we went to Foscue Park to go fishing. Some of them told me they hadn’t been fishing in 20 years!”

The RSVP program — Retired and Senior Volunteer Program — comes to the center every month to do blood pressure and cholesterol checks.

“A lot of them make sure now that their blood-sugar is good and their cholesterol is good,” Dixon said. “Lately, everybody has been doing very well. That keeps them from having to go to the doctor just to have that checked. That works out very well for them.”

The center is a place where area seniors can go to have a lunch, meet with people their own age and enjoy themselves. It is working to become a place where seniors can belong.

“Anything that can help them to realize that just because they are seniors doesn’t mean that life stops for them,” Dixon said. “There are different activities each month, something new. They can walk in, and they never know what’s going to happen.”

The West Alabama Nutrition Center is open weekdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon, with lunch being served at 11:30 a.m.