LEWISTON — SeniorsPlus, the designated Western Maine Agency on Aging, announces the launch of a new dining site designed to cater to the Somali community.

The dining site is in the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, 208 Bates St. The public is invited to attend lunches presented there at 11:30 a.m. Mondays (except holidays) starting March 6. A $3 donation is suggested.

The launch is in conjunction with the Senior New Mainers Cooking Project, a program designed to engage older new Mainers who are members of the refugee community in Lewiston. According to the New York Times, Lewiston has a population of 36,300, of which 6,000 residents are Somali — most of whom arrived here in the past 15 years.

The program is made possible by a Healthy Food for Every Age grant from the Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare Foundation. For this nutrition program, registered dieticians from the Nutrition Center at St. Mary’s Hospital, in collaboration with Healthy Androscoggin at Central Maine Medical Center as the cultural broker, will teach ethnically-appropriate cooking classes to older adults in the new Mainers community.

By the end of the project’s initial year, in addition to lunches, the expectation is that the dining site will have offered a minimum of one set of six cooking classes with translated materials, tips and nutrition information. Information about SNAP, local farmers markets, Farm Share program, will also be shared to broaden the attendees’ knowledge of healthy eating and cooking.

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