For 40 years, the Pike Market Senior Center (PMSC) has served low-income and homeless seniors in the immediate downtown Seattle area. PMSC provides a safe place for seniors (55 years and older) to participate in activities such as yoga, dancing, acupuncture, receive assistance with housing and social security, and perhaps the most important thing of all - a place to eat two meals a day. Behind the scenes planning activities, scheduling wellness services and cooking meals is a dedicated team of staff and volunteers.
Feeding approximately 200 seniors daily is no easy feat, especially when 90% of food needs are reliant on donations! Brenda Neuweiler, senior nutrition program manager and chef, plans and cooks meals based on weekly donations that not only taste good but meet the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). The Senior Center serves breakfast and lunch daily, which means that if a senior eats both meals at the center they will have received ⅔ of RDA for the day. Neuweiler has only been at the center for 2 years, but says, “I realized the needs within this demographic and immediately knew that through my cooking I could bring positive change and was confident that I could elevate the food being served. I couldn’t be more pleased with the staff and how we’re able to make such a positive impact on people’s lives.”
Running and operating a senior center takes money, and while about 75% of the funding comes from Pike Place Market Foundation grants and city contracts, there’s still a 25% funding gap that needs to be filled. That's where Mason Lowe comes in. Lowe is PMSC's grant writer and bookkeeper, and has been with the organization for the past 8 years. “I love it," said Lowe about working with seniors. "Everyone here has had a really interesting life. Anytime I’ve been able to sit down and have a one-on-one, I leave blown away.”
(Brenda Neuweiler and Mason Lowe, PMSC staff)