Maintaining senior nutrition programs with the coronavirus pandemic is not easy. However, local senior centers are stepping up to the challenge. On the California side of the Colorado River, that’s the Bonnie Baker Senior Center in Big River.

The center has meals for take-out Monday through Friday. They also distribute U.S. Department of Agriculture commodities from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the second Friday of each month.

The most recent commodities distribution was Friday, May 8. Center Director Diane Muniz said the volunteers prepare and distribute almost 200 boxes of commodities each month. She said she was pleased these commodities include frozen items and cans from known brands like Campbell’s, Del Monte and Stokely’s.

Muniz said the volunteers spend many hours each month preparing the boxes. On distribution day, center patrons pull up to the entrance in their cars. Volunteers sign them in, and deliver the food boxes to their cars. In this way, Muniz said patrons never have to leave their vehicles.

In order to encourage patrons to bring their empty boxes back to the center, those who return the empty boxes receive an extra can of food.

The programs are paid for through the California Department of Social Services and the California Department of Aging.

Muniz said she could not say enough about the center’s volunteers and all the work they do. She said they are the heart of the entire program.

“The volunteers make the program work,” she said.

She said San Bernardino County delivers a big truck full of food items only once every three months. These include seven or eight pallets of canned goods, non-perishable items, and frozen items. They handle their nutrition programs from these deliveries. After the truck makes the delivery, Muniz said they sometimes have trouble fitting it all inside, and fitting everything into their freezers.

Muniz said she would like to install a new walk-in freezer in addition to the one they already have so they can have more storage space.

The center also has meals for pick-up on a drive-thru basis from 11:30 to 12 noon Monday through Friday. If you wish to get lunch from the center, please call 760-665-2667 before 9 a.m. on the day(s) you wish to get lunch so they will have enough food prepared.

The center also has home-bound meal deliveries as well.

To find out about these and other programs from the Bonnie Baker Senior Center, please call 760-665-2667. The center is located at 149350 Ukiah Trail in Big River.

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