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People, challenges keep her cooking

Staff writer

When Betty Gayle began cooking March 17, 1988, at Hillsboro Senior Center, she was amazed by the difference in scale from home cooking. Even the size of the rolling pin worried her.

“I thought, ‘Man, can I lift this thing?’” Gayle said Friday.

The center provides 47 to 60 meals most days, including Meals on Wheels, she said.

After adjusting to the scale of the job, she found a lot to enjoy about it. She likes working with the volunteers in the kitchen and getting to know the center’s patrons, she said. The atmosphere at the senior center is always friendly.

“It makes you feel like coming back,” she said. “If it was about the money, I wouldn’t be here.”

Gayle also enjoys the challenges presented by the variety of the food served. Menus are set by the Flint Hills Area Agency on Aging and include a lot of variety.

“If the menus were all the same, it would get boring,” she said.

Some days she bakes food from scratch instead of serving the usual roll. Patrons received oatmeal-raisin muffins with lunch Friday.

Gayle and the kitchen volunteers are popular with senior center patrons.

“Oh, they’re wonderful,” Ray Matz of Hillsboro said.

The meals are excellent for the $2.50 price senior citizens pay, he said. He said he knew he would always get a nutritious meal at the senior center.

“I don’t think you can do it any cheaper at home,” Matz said.

Budget woes have been trickling down lately from the area agency on aging to local senior centers, Gayle said.

The agency requested centers encourage patrons to bring extra produce from their gardens to save on food expenses, she said.

Another effect of the budget crunch has been an increased focus on financial training.

In previous years, annual training sessions focused more on food and food safety.

Last modified Aug. 26, 2010

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