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Middle schoolers serve up ‘best food in the area’ at local community center


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Students from Hobbs Middle School serve seniors their lunch at The Elite Retreat, A Community Center for Active Adults in Shelley. | Eric Grossarth,

SHELLEY — Each week young volunteers serve up “the best food in the area” at a Shelley community center as a live band plays in the background.

The Elite Retreat, A Community Center for Active Adults, holds the lunches every Wednesday and Fridays at noon as part of the Senior Nutrition Program.

To help serve the food, Hobbs Middle School principal Dale Clark brings four students during the noon hour to the lunches on Wednesdays. He started the volunteer opportunity for the students three years ago when he became principal.

“It’s really good for our kids,” Clark said. “Service, that’s what it’s all about, teaching kids to do good for others.”

The four students take trays of food to each of those at the lunch, and after everyone else is served, they grab their own trays and join the others to eat.

“I’ve learned a lot of respect for them. They learn, they serve and they seem like they are enthusiastic,” said Allen King, chairman of the center. “It’s a lot of help for us here, but it is also nice to have them come because then they sometimes think we are old fogies, but they get to find out we aren’t quite that.”

Denine Wong, site director for the center, said it’s a “win-win situation” for students and seniors.

Eric Grossarth,

The Elite Retreat used to be known as a senior center, but now it’s open to everyone. Wong said everyone is invited to join them for the meals and activities, whether it be to volunteer or participate.

“We love the seniors and are here for their nutritional program, which is good, but we’re here for anybody,” Wong said. “Anybody can come in here and eat with us, and we have I will say hands down the best food that your going to get in all of this area.”

The food served at the lunches is homemade. All of the breads, cookies and cakes are made from scratch, Wong said.

“The food is so awesome. That is why we are all here,” says Phillis Duenes of Iona.

Wong said people can get involved by becoming drivers for the Meals on Wheels program, as well as helping with preparing and serving the meals and cleaning up afterward.

“Everybody appreciates them (the students) so much for getting them their food,” said Aline Stack, an adult volunteer at the center. “This is so much better for people that are served. You can see we practically have a full house.”

Click here to see meal prices.