Locally produced food will be featured in a special menu at the Delaware Opportunities Senior Dining Centers.

Tom Briggs, Delaware County Office for the Aging director, said all of the food will be purchased from local vendors, and most of it has been grown locally.

"It's an interesting venture," Briggs said. "The seniors really like the idea and it's good for the local economy."

The evening meals will be served at 5 p.m. today at the Sidney, Grand Gorge, Walton and Hancock sites. The meal will also be served at noon today at the Margaretville site and at 5 p.m. July 24 at the Delhi Dining Center.

The menu will include a mixed-green-and-tomato salad, mashed potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, roast pork and ice cream served with fresh blueberries.

Briggs said most local growers focus on selling at farmers' markets, which makes it necessary to plan months in advance so the senior meals program will have enough food to feed 300 to 400 people. He said products for this meal are from Lucky Dog Farm in Hamden and Heller's in Bainbridge.

"We may have to send menus out to the producers nine months in advance of the dinner so they grow what is needed for the meals," Briggs said.

Chris Harmon, a beef farmer in Oneonta who is executive director of the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship, was part of a group that worked to make the meal happen.

"We want to localize to help the economy and be good neighbors," Briggs said.

The group used funds provided by the county to test the viability of adding locally grown foods to the Senior Dining Program.

Briggs said the Delaware County Office for the Aging started the program with the intention of being able to spend more money locally, of serving fresher, safer food to senior diners and to encourage other local organizations to follow suit.

"Our first effort was at the annual barbecue in June," Briggs said. "But of course we always have to remember that weather can be a factor. We planned to serve strawberries, but May was a cold, wet month so the strawberries didn't ripen as early as usual."

People interested in attending one of the meals may call Delaware Opportunities at 746-1710 or their local Senior Dining Center for more information or to make reservations.

The senior dining program is funded by the Federal Administration on Aging, the state Office for the Aging and local government.

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