CHERRY HILL, N.J. - They say there's no such thing as a free lunch, but meals are available to those 60 years or older at the many senior centers in the area.
And there's something extra being served with those lunches at The Katz JCC in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Malnutrition is a serious problem for many older adults. And so is loneliness. Lunch at this Jewish Community Center is vital for many, but, more importantly, so is the community that is created.
"We're more than just a meal. It's all about socialization and coming here, many of them consider this their second home. It's eating with their new family, talking, kibitzing, finding connections," said Mary Weiner Lahav, Director of the Adult Cultural and Judaic Department at Katz JCC.
Chef Arkady and his volunteers prepare healthy meals daily and even a real treat on occasion.
Seniors may come for the lunch, but they stay for the pools, fitness classes and programs for all ages.
And, of course, everybody is welcome here.
"This is a community center and aging knows no color, difference, religion, whatever," said Weiner Lahav.
"It's full of people who love being here - people who work here, people who come. I think we're a big family," said volunteer, Sue Shuman from Marlton, New Jersey.
"This is a great place. I'm very happy here. They love me and treat me kindly," said Lillie McPherson from Cherry Hill.
As the brisket feeds the body, the fellowship feeds the souls - something Sue Shuman understands well.
"The most important thing is to do something that matters to you - to get involved, to do something - it keeps you young," she said.
"The best way to know what we're all about is come to the meal program. You'll meet people, you'll find things that are common ground - it's all about being together," said Weiner Lahav.
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