Combating loneliness with the Lunch Out program

Photo Credit:  Kae Ng on Unsplash

Photo Credit: Kae Ng on Unsplash

In an effort to help lessen the effects of loneliness and isolation among elderly and disabled residents, Community Support Services of Niagara (CSSN) is continuing their Lunch Out program.

CSSN is a volunteer based not-for-profit agency providing comprehensive client-driven community support services to help seniors and adults with disabilities live independently in their own homes. The agency services the areas of Grimsby, Welland, St. Catharines, Thorold and Lincoln.

The Lunch Out program strives to get their clients out for a meal twice a month during which they have time to socialize. Clients pay for their buffet-style meals which vary from $10 to $13 based on the community office they are serviced through. For St. Catharines and Thorold, the cost is usually $12 per meal. During the summer and holiday season special lunches and picnics are offered. After each meal, clients are entertained with an activity for upwards of an hour. Activities include Bingo, music, guest speakers, games and more. Transportation is provided to all clients if necessary.

“A lot of our clients are living alone so they’re at nutritional risk due to different life factors. If they’re lonely, if they’re isolated, they can move on to loss of appetite. That can lead to depression,” said Shona McClure, program coordinator for St. Catharines and Thorold. “We’ve had many seniors tell us throughout the years that they have a sense of belonging at our Lunch Outs and it’s always a lovely afternoon for them, just to be out of their home and engaged.”

The Lunch Out program attracts approximately 30 to 40 seniors each time it is held and takes place at two alternating locations each month. It is hosted first at Grantham Lions Club and then at Grantham Optimist Club.

CSSN also offers another service, Meals on Wheels, for clients that are not able to get out for the Lunch Out program. Clients who sign up for the program are provided with hot meals that are delivered Monday through Friday to their homes. Clients decide which days they receive meals and are also able to make special dietary requests. In addition to hot meals, frozen meals are also available and can be ordered from a five-week rotating menu with a choice of a variety of soups, entrées and desserts. Fees are billed monthly from upwards of $5.65. Deliveries are carried out by volunteers and each year the program serves over 45,000 meals in St. Catharines and Thorold.

The CSSN team is consistently looking for volunteers as the majority of their programs and services are operated by groups of volunteers. Those interested can contact Katie Dutka, volunteer coordinator for CSSN at

Interested individuals are encouraged to visit to find the contact information for each CSSN service location based on their city. For members of the St. Catharines and Thorold communities, individuals can contact the St. Catharines Office at 905-682-3800 ext. 34 to sign up for the Lunch Out program or receive more information. To sign up for the Meals on Wheels program, residents can contact 905-682-0333.

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