LEXINGTON — It’s not that JoAnn Windsor doesn’t know how to cook.

“I’m by myself so it’s not worth it to make a big meal and then have to eat it for three or four days,” the Mansfield woman said.

Every now and then, she’ll whip up a quick dish. But one of her go-to places for grub is the Lexington Senior Civic Center, which functions as a congregate meal site. 

You can find her there every Tuesday and Thursday when meals are served to the public (all ages) from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost is $7 per meal, which includes an entree, salad, dessert and drink. Click here for a menu. 

According to Brenda Wilson, who’s served as the director of the senior center since 2007, the twice-a-week meals draw about 100 people. Attendance is especially high (around 140 people) when old-fashioned favorites like Swiss steak, ham loaf and pot roast are served.

“This place gets packed,” she said.

But it’s not just the food that attracts a crowd. It’s the social aspect, too.

“I needed that,” Windsor said. “It’s almost my savior, you know. If I don’t get out and move around, I’ll become a vegetable. I’m 73. I can’t afford to be sitting around and doing nothing.”

Ed Kyger, of Galion, started coming to the senior center not long after his wife’s passing.

“I lost my wife about eight years ago, and I don’t cook, so I tried to figure out different places that I could go and someone suggested that I go to the senior center in Lexington because they’ve got a great cook,” he said.

“The rest is history.”

In between bites of spaghetti, Kyger chatted with others seated at his table.

“It’s nice to have someone to talk to,” he said.

Several friendships have formed thanks to the senior center, which offers much more than a homemade meal.

Located in the former train depot at 67 E. Main St., the senior center provides education, health screenings, information and referral, as well as entertainment for seniors 55 and over. It has served the southern part of Richland County since 1990.

Evening euchre sessions are held Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Bingo is every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.

The center also hosts guest speakers who touch on a variety of subjects — from fraud and scam prevention to nutrition and diabetes.

“There’s all sorts of things,” said Rosalinda Heinlen, of Mansfield.

She, too, enjoys the camaraderie and mentioned what a great support system the senior center provides.

“They’re like a family,” she said.

Both she and her husband, Bob, enjoy going on the senior center trips.

“We’re signed up for all of them this year,” Bob said.

One of the trips this year is a three-day excursion to the Finger Lakes region in New York. Proceeds generated from the annual rummage sale cover trip transportation expenses.

“All we pay for are extras like the hotel and food,” said Windsor, who said she goes on every trip she can.

“It’s wonderful.”

While there’s much to be gained by going to the senior center, many find that it’s also an opportunity to give back. Some volunteer at the center and help with different events and activities.

Many others assist with the rummage sale.

“That’s a big project for us,” Kyger said.

Whether visiting for the food, friends, social hour or what have you, Kyger said the center is a great way to get out and get involved.

“Sitting at home by yourself sucks. No other way of putting it,” he said. “You can only watch so much TV.

“I had a neighbor who retired -- he didn’t do anything, didn’t go anywhere. He lasted one year.

“You’ve gotta get up and get active and go.”

For more information about the senior center, call 419-884-1676. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This Solutions Journalism story is brought to you in part by the generous support of our Newsroom Partners: Spherion, Visiting Nurses Association, PR Machine Works, Nanogate/Jay Systems, DRM Productions, OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital, Richland Bank, Mechanics Bank, Area Agency on Aging, and many others. To learn more about Solutions Journalism at Richland Source click the "About Solutions Journalism."

Thrive Reporter

Thrive reporter. Graduate of Ontario High School and Ohio State Mansfield. Wife. Mom. Dog lover. Fitness enthusiast. Plant collector. Mac and cheese consumer.