Did you know that lunch at Heritage Towers is open to the public for older residents and their guests? Many people think that the dining room at Heritage Towers is only for the residents there but that’s not true.

When Heritage Towers opened in 1980, the Senior Center began serving meals there and they were always open to the public. For many years, we cooked not only for the Heritage Towers diners but also for the Senior Center’s meal sites in Story and Big Horn. When I was hired as the head cook for the Heritage Towers kitchen in 1988, these meal sites were already established.

At that time, meals were also served in the Tongue River Valley but the Senior Center didn’t cook them at first. The Senior Center contracted with the Ranch House Restaurant there to make senior meals. That was somewhere between 1975 to 1980. They had a special room that the seniors used and they had a specific menu for seniors. My mom was on the Senior Citizens Coordinating Council and that group was responsible for starting the senior meal program in the Tongue River Valley. They sent bids out to restaurants for the contract. The Ranch House Restaurant had the contract for a long time and for some years the Magnum restaurant had the contract. The Hitching Post restaurant (now the Branding Iron restaurant) also had the senior meals contract and added the room in the back to serve meals for seniors.

Then the Magnum and Ranch House restaurants closed and the Branding Iron had to raise prices for senior meals. So then, in 1992, the Senior Center began cooking meals for Tongue River Valley seniors at Heritage Towers.

Valuable volunteers would pick up the meals to take to the Big Horn and Story meal sites. A Senior Center employee will pick up meals for Tongue River now served at the community center in Dayton. I oversaw the meals for Heritage Towers and for the meal sites while the staff at the Senior Center kitchen at 211 Smith St. cooked meals for diners there and for home-delivered meals.

I did all the ordering and planned Wednesday night menus. We used to have Wednesday night dinners every week at Heritage Towers. At first it was a new program but then as it went on we’d have up to 90 people come for dinner on Wednesday nights. We’d always have BINGO and sometimes special entertainment.

In 2009, the Senior Center reorganized its meals program and I was transferred to the activities program. Sun Kim took over at Heritage Towers as the Monday through Friday staff person and continued meal service at Heritage Towers with the help of volunteers. I go once a week to make announcements and answer questions for diners. And I still plan Wednesday night dinners but now they are quarterly and not weekly. We get around 50 people at the Wednesday night dinners.

If you are 60 or older, you can dine at any of our senior meal sites in the county, including Heritage Towers. Our grant funding requires that you are registered with the Senior Center to qualify for the suggested contribution of $4.50 for lunch. Many people like this as they can contribute what fits their budget. Registration is easy as you only have to answer a questionnaire. There is no fee to register. If you are not registered, or want to bring a guest like your family, then lunch is $7.50 per person.

So, if you like a smaller Senior Center dining experience, consider joining us for lunch at Heritage Towers. We serve lunch there Mondays through Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. There is ample off-street parking south of Heritage Towers which is located at 428 N. Jefferson Street, across from the YMCA.

Jean Harm is the “Assistant of Fun” at the Sheridan Senior Center. Center Stage is written by friends of the Senior Center for the Sheridan Community. It is a collection of insights and stories related to living well at every age.