Opening of Blackstone Café at Mathieu Center a hit

Opening of Blackstone Café at Mathieu Center a hit

Catherine Taylor, director of the Division of Elderly Affairs, told the crowd at the opening of the Blackstone Cafe Monday that the facility on the third floor of the Leon Mathieu Senior Center supports "healthy aging" through good menu choices and the chance to socialize.

PAWTUCKET - Mixing sound nutrition with a friendly social atmosphere, the Blackstone Café made its official debut Monday on the third floor of the Leon Mathieu Senior Center at 420 Main St. More than 70 people turned out for a lunch of quiche and a round of speeches.

Blackstone Health Inc., a Care New England partner based at the senior center, announced the new dining experience as an initiative intended to improve the face of "congregate" dining. The café offers nutritional food choices.

Alyssa Joyce, nutrition director for Blackstone Health Inc., said the new café offers three meal options, the hearty option, the pub option, and the spa option.

Invited guests welcomed by Senior Center Director Mary Lou Moran for the event included Catherine Taylor, executive director of the state Department of Elderly Affairs, Marie Stoeckel, chief program officer with the Department of Elderly Affairs, Aleatha Dickerson of R.I. Senior Medicare, Deb Barrett and Jennifer Thayer of Human Resources, Care New England, Melissa Smith, director of next-door New Horizons Adult Day Care, and Mayor Donald Grebien, who presented a city citation in honor of the occasion.

"What we are celebrating is opening the doors to healthy aging," said Moran. She thanked the various partners behind the cafe, saying, "it's public and it's private and it's local and state entities coming together."

Joyce said the day was a celebration of what the café program embodies.

"It is about dining, it is about nutrition, it is about friends and it is about memories," she said.

Taylor said the program takes senior nutrition "to the next level" and offers a national model.

The café welcomes all diners age 60 and older regardless of ability or income and serves lunches five days a week. The suggested donation is $3 per meal to sustain the program, which is provided under federal Older Americans Act funding.

Mary Lou Moran, executive director of the Leon Mathieu Senior Center, welcomes more than 70 diners at the debut of the Blackstone Cafe Monday.