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Low-Cost Meals for Seniors at Carbon and Miners Campuses
January 22, 2024

John and Eleanor Dawyd dined recently, in the festively decorated cafeteria of St. Luke’s Carbon Campus, on a sumptuous meal of stuffed shells, brussels sprouts, salad and cake. The retired couple enjoyed this low-cost comfort food thanks to the hospital’s new Older Adults Dining Program.

The hospital, in Franklin Township, launched this meal-deal for seniors last fall, to welcome the community and feed nutritious meals to persons living on limited incomes, says Ryan Zellner, Director of Nutrition Services at St. Luke’s Carbon Campus.

Normally this kind of dinner might cost $15-$20 a person in a restaurant, he said. The meals are priced attractively at $3.99 plus tax and available Monday through Friday, 4-6 p.m. to those aged 65 and over and to veterans.

The Dawyds, of Mahoning Township, travel 15 minutes from home to the hospital and clearly enjoyed their repast. They eat at the hospital about four times per week, they claim, because they can’t pass up a great deal.

“I love it,” said Eleanor, who especially enjoys the chicken specials. “It’s good food and I don’t have to cook or do dishes.”

Zellner, an employee of the Metz Culinary Management company, estimates the program serves some 200-300 meals monthly, welcoming as many as 30 diners on a busy day. Like the Dawyds, many come there frequently.

St. Luke’s Miners Campus in Coaldale also has meals program. The Miners Campus began offering the same special meals to seniors last September, notes Dawn Miller, General Manager Food and Nutrition at that campus, and feeds 10-15 diners daily.  “Since the program started, we have served over 907 meals to area seniors and those from as far away as Weatherly.” 

Donna and Joe Bannon drive to the St. Luke’s Carbon hospital from Albrightsville, a 20-minute jaunt, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings each week, to enjoy the food and the evening out.

“It’s convenient and gives me a break from cooking,” Donna said, “and the price is right.”

She prefers the tacos and balsamic chicken, especially, and tells their friends about the program.

“It’s like you’re in a restaurant. I like it.” She plans to bring some elder friends to the hospital and treat them to a meal, she adds.

“It will be a special evening for them.” 

John Dawyd learned of the meal deal from the Times-News newspaper, and he and Eleanor decided to give it a try. Since then, they have been regulars, sharing a table by the window and sometimes inviting other diners to join them. 

Zellner says that, in addition to pasta, chicken and fish, tacos and Salisbury Steak round out the weekly entrée selections.

“They’re nutritionally balanced meals,” he says, “So our diners are eating good food.”

He’s noticed that diners, who had been strangers before eating here, sometimes sit with others to eat and chat, which adds a social benefit to the experience. “We’re happy to bring people together socially, as we know that this interaction is healthy.”

“And we certainly hope they’ll think of St. Luke’s Carbon if they need medical care,” says Zellner.

John Dawyd says he’s partial to the fish dish, though he admits, “I’m not really a fish fan.”

He keeps coming back and jokes that he’s holding out for his favorite entrée.  

“I’m waiting for my lobster tail,” he quipped with a twinkle in his eyes, as he took another bite of the stuffed shells. “This food is good.”