Essex opens senior meal center in Newark's south ward

By Jessica Mazzola | NJ Advance Media, for
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on August 01, 2014

Cutting the ceremonial ribbon with the County Executive Joe DiVincenzo are (from left) Gloria Chambers-Benoit from the Essex County Division of Senior Services, Earlie Worthen, Colleen Field, Newark South Ward Councilman John James, Waverly Baskerville, Weequahic Park Sports Authority President Doug Freeman and Willie Norman.



NEWARK -- Essex County has opened its fourth senior citizen congregate meal center in a Newark Park, and officials say they hope to expand the program to offer not only food to the elderly, but to promote exercise and healthy lifestyles as well.

The 'Cafe in Essex County Weequahic Park' opened Thursday, County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, the Essex County Division of Senior Services and the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs announced. The facility, which will operate weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., is meant to offer seniors healthy meals for little to no cost. The suggested cost to dine at the cafe is a $3 donation.

“Utilizing our Parks Building for a new congregate meal site provides our clients with a friendly and inviting atmosphere to enjoy their meals and raises awareness about the park,” DiVincenzo said in a release about the opening.

“Our congregate meal program does more than just provide nutritious food to seniors. We want to get them involved in exercise programs, learn about healthy lifestyles and stay active in their community,” Essex County Senior Services Director Jaklyn DeVore added.

“There is a lot of potential here to expand our program so we can attend to the complete wellness of our seniors."

DeVore said additional programs for seniors, like cooking demonstrations, health and wellness programs, diabetes prevention initiatives, and breakfast and dinner offerings, may soon come to the park in Newark's south ward.

Since 2011, three other sites have opened on county parkland, at the Senior Building in the Northern Division of Branch Brook Park, in Independence Park, and at Watsessing Park.

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