Senior meal program available at Baldwin City’s Dance Cafe; forums on health assessments coming to Baldwin, Eudora

The Baldwin Academy of Dance and Voice has become a downtown intergenerational lunchtime hot spot. The academy’s restaurant, the Dance Cafe, stepped up in April to fill the void when the Baker University cafeteria decided to no longer be a site for the Choosing Healthy Appetizing Meal Plan Solutions for Seniors program.

The Dance Cafe, 711 High St., offers the meals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, said Courtney Williams, owner of the Baldwin Academy of Dance and Voice.

The Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging decided in 2015 to close congregate meal sites, such as the one offered for years at the Baldwin City Senior Center in the basement of Baldwin Healthcare and Rehabilitation, in favor of the CHAMPSS program. The program kicked off in January 2016 at the Baker cafeteria, but that site always presented parking issues for seniors and wasn’t open during the summer or other periods when the college was closed.

Neither of those issues is a problem at the Dance Cafe, which provides what the Jayhawk AAA is looking for in a CHAMPSS site, said Beth Kinnan, nutrition coordinator for Jayhawk AAA.

“When we’re looking for a CHAMPSS site, we’re looking for a place the general public goes and where those 60 years of age or older can go and not be segregated or isolated in any way,” she said. “We’re looking for a public restaurant, cafe or grocery store that has hot food.”

Williams said the Dance Cafe serves sandwiches and salads for CHAMPSS meals.

“We have some CHAMPSS customers every day,” she said. “There’s some days we get a whole crowd.”

CHAMPSS is not meant to be a home-delivered meal program because it emphasizes the social aspects of seniors getting out into their communities, Kinnan said. Home-delivered meals in Baldwin City are available through the Senior Resource Center for Douglas County. However, the Dance Cafe will deliver its CHAMPSS meals with the other lunchtime meals it deliveries daily, Williams said.

The Jayhawk AAA will have a CHAMPSS orientation meeting and sign-up opportunity at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Baldwin City Library, 800 Seventh St. Kinnan said those 60 and older would be able to sign up for a CHAMPSS card at the meeting. A $3-per-meal donation is requested for the cards, and seniors can get cards with as few as four or as many as 12 meals. Seniors are required to get their first cards in person, but they can be refilled online.

Kinnan said she was still hoping to work with a Eudora restaurant to start a CHAMPSS site in that city.

“I haven’t found anyone willing to do it,” she said. “I would love to have a restaurant in Eudora, but no one I’ve contacted has made an effort to get more information.”

Baldwin City and Eudora residents are asked to provide feedback on health assessments developed through a partnership of a number of county agencies. Findings from the Douglas County Community Health Assessment will be presented at a forum from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Baldwin City Library, 800 Seventh St., and from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Eudora Community Recreation Center, 1630 Elm St.

The assessment includes a survey of 2,000 county residents; newly analyzed data about life expectancy, leading causes of death and other health concerns in the county; and a PhotoVoice project in which area youth used photography to identify health concerns and strengths.

Food and beverages will be available at the forums.

The Eudora Chamber of Commerce summer social will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Kaw Valley State Bank, 739 Main St.