The Boonslick Senior Center, 520 Ryan St. Suite A, in Boonville is doing its part to serve seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Particpation in curbside meal pick-ups increased by 25 since the program started March 16. Pick-ups are available 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The center provides meals to between 250-275 participants.

"We are a nutrition program for senior citizens ages 60 and over," senior center Administrator Sherry Bellamy said. "We also offer services that are geared to help seniors remain independently living."Bellamy said.

Other center programs include exercise classes, health and wellness clinics, education programs and social activities.

The center has not yet decided on a reopen date. Gov. Mike Parson issued his plan on Monday to start the reopening of businesses in Missouri, but organizations like senior centers may choose to stay closed to the public longer.

The center partners with Aging Best, formerly the Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging, for its nutrition program. Aging Best partners with 31 senior centers in 19 Missouri counties.

With only curbside pickup at the present time, Bellamy stressed that the senior center is closed to anyone entering the building other than staff and 2-3 volunteers. Seniors make a reservation a day in advance for a meal and they call when they are headed to the center to pick it up. Workers, who are wearing masks, will then hand the packaged meal to the senior when they arrive at the center.

The center also provides meals for those who are home bound. There are approximately 50 senior citizens in Cooper County who are unable to visit the senior center. They receive a week’s worth of frozen meals to heat at home, along with milk, juice and bread through the Meals4U program. Meals are delivered either on Tuesday, Thursday or Friday.

Although the center takes donations, Bellamy said there are several funding avenues, including contributions from the city and then Aging Best receives state and federal funds and grants.

"We are a nonprofit that receives our funds through the Older Americans Act and the Missouri Division of Health and Human Services," she said.

The center takes payments for meals, but seniors are not turned away if they are not able to pay.

"If they can and are able to contribute [it helps] offset the cost of the meal and our overhead," Bellamy said.

Most people do make a donation, which is private. Guests register at the front desk, but those names are not associated with the donations or their amount.

"We have a nine member board of directors,"Bellamy said. "The actual building and facility is owned locally by the board or by the Boonslick Senior Center Incorporated as a nonprofit."

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