At St. Mary’s, elderly eating woes

GW students aren’t the only ones up in arms about their food options.

Just because the lunch offered to elderly patrons of St. Mary’s Court is affordable and located in their building does not mean the diners are happy with their meals.

Residents and day patrons of St. Mary’s Court, an affordable housing complex for the elderly located behind Lerner Health and Wellness Center, debated the quality of their food service program at their last monthly food service committee meeting.

“It’s exactly what you would hear every day at school,” said Margaret Pully, executive director of St. Mary’s Court. “Being able to provide for everyone’s likes and dislikes is very difficult. Some people like things cooked more or less, or something more salty or less salty.”

St. Mary’s Court is one of the D.C. Office on Aging’s lunch program sites. Residents and others in the neighborhood, including the homeless, are asked to donate up to $2 for the meal. Pully estimates about 35 non-residents come for lunch every day.

“The non-residents do the best they can. Some people donate a few cents or some people give nothing,” said Elizabeth Sullivan, an 87-year-old resident of St. Mary’s Court.

Holding a food service committee meeting once a month allows seniors to voice their concerns about the food and to discuss ways to implement new policies. Billy Wright, a 61-year-old resident, chairs the committee and said he was nominated for his position because he previously attended culinary school and worked as a chef.

“You can’t please everyone, but we try to work on the menu together for the (upcoming) month and discuss what (the diners) like and don’t like,” Wright said.

The food service committee worked to provide sugar-free sweets including ice cream, pies and cookies for the high volume of diners living with diabetes.

Tracey Rodgers, director of St. Mary’s Court dining services, said she does her best to grant requests to provide non-ridged macaroni, a larger number of salad bowls and less-salty salmon cakes – the types of concerns discussed at the monthly committee meetings.

But there are some things Rodgers cannot control.

She said, “There is nothing I can do to remove the salt from the salmon cakes. They come in a can, and I can’t extract the salt.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.