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Community Action Partnership of Kern CEO Jeremy Tobias accepts the Rotary District donation of $9,036 to support their food bank program. They are providing food for so many affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including Tehachapi residents, through the Salvation Army Foodbank efforts and the Tehachapi Senior Center food pickups.

At the start of the pandemic, the Tehachapi Senior Center followed suit with the rest of the nation and closed its doors. Although local residents lost their favorite spot for socializing, they were still served meals through the Senior Nutrition Program.

Located at 500 E. F St., the center serves sack lunches Monday through Friday beginning at noon. Seniors are required to call 822-6255 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. the day prior to reserve a lunch for the following day.

Membership at the center is not required to be eligible for the Senior Nutrition Program; however, registration is required through Kern County Aging and Adult Services.

Lunches are a $3 suggested donation for those over the age of 60 and $6 for individuals under 60. They are served at the doorway of the Senior Center, and individuals are required to practice social distancing when they pick up their meal.

The Meals on Wheels program is also offered to eligible seniors by calling the above number.

Local resident Kathy Flynn said she and her husband initially signed up for daily meals, but they now make their own at home. However, what she misses the most is the interaction she had with other seniors.

"We enjoyed the conversation we had over our meals," said Flynn, who is in her early 60s. 

She fears, however, for other seniors who are now isolated, such as her neighbor who is in his 80s.

"They are missing social interaction and are declining mentally," said Flynn, who is a retired nurse. "They need someone to talk to and to see another face."

Each month, the Tehachapi Senior Center publishes a newsletter full of information and a daily menu plan at tehachapiseniorcenter.com.

In the May newsletter, President Lewis Brown wrote a special message to local seniors:

"COVID 19 is still a threat. The center remains closed to all activities... Social distances seem to be working in the mountain areas. Everyone should follow the guidelines for the virus protection. Wear a mask and gloves when you go out, wash your hands often. It’s unknown when we can come together again as a group, but I ask all of you to stay home, stay safe and stop the spread," wrote Brown.

When local businesses begin to reopen in Tehachapi, Flynn said, it may take a while for her to feel safe and venture back out.

"As a retired nurse, when I see a number of deaths, it is something more personal to me as I see a person and a family," said Flynn.

Other programs

The CAPK Food Bank Senior Food Program is also available to local seniors. The program is designed to provide low-income seniors with a 30-pound box of healthy food items such as milk, cereal, protein, fruits and vegetables each month.

Seniors must be at least 60 years of age, a Kern County resident and meet federal income guidelines. For more information, visit capk.org/food.

For more information about the Salvation Army food pantries, visit www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/ or call 823-9508.