Poughkeepsie, NY … The Dutchess County Office for the Aging (OFA) held its first free senior picnic of the 2021 season at Thomas J. Boyce Park in Wingdale today, continuing to implement the successful drive-through adaption of its traditional sit-down picnics, an innovation that served more residents than ever in 2020. The full schedule of OFA senior picnics, which continues through late August, is available at www.dutchessny.gov/OFApicnics.
The drive-through picnic model, adopted last year to adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines, continues in 2021, as residents 60 years of age and older drive to the designated picnic venue and receive their free, nutritious, hot lunch. This season, however, seniors have the added option of parking at the venue and savoring their lunches onsite, wherever suitable space is available.
County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and New York State have eased mask-wearing and social-distancing guidance for those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, vaccinated seniors are now allowed to be maskless at gatherings, including our Office for the Aging’s senior picnics. Given this development, we are happy to provide even more options for seniors who attend our picnics, offering them even more socialization while learning about the OFA and the countless services and programs it offers.”
OFA staff and volunteers served 4,307 residents at its 12 drive-through picnics in 2020, an increase of more than 500 residents who enjoyed its dozen traditional, sit-down picnics the previous year.
Director Tancredi said, “Switching to the drive-through format last year helped us serve more seniors than ever before at the picnics. We’ve expanded capacity again in 2021, and seniors have been as enthusiastic as they’ve ever been about calling us to reserve their spot at their community’s picnic.”
At this year’s OFA picnics seniors receive hot lunches featuring either hamburgers or vegetarian burgers, along with side dishes, prepared onsite by OFA meal contractor Bateman Senior Meals, which also prepares the meals for OFA’s Home Delivered Meals (HDM) program. The HDM program currently serves over 400 seniors a week throughout Dutchess County.
Director Tancredi said, “Last year, seniors successfully adapted to the drive-through format and took the opportunity to enjoy their to-go meals at parks throughout the county. This year, were thrilled to add a sit-down option at the picnic venues, for all the seniors who want to stop and ask questions of OFA staff and local elected officials who attend.”
OFA serves residents from every community in Dutchess County at the picnic in their area. Space is limited at each picnic, and seniors who wish to reserve their space at the picnic are encouraged to call (866) 486-2555. OFA staff continues to mail reminder postcards to seniors throughout the county, though the postcard is not required to make a reservation.
The 2021 picnic season is supported, in part, by Wingate Healthcare.