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February 13, 2014

Merri Village weekend meals program to begin in March

MERRIMAC — The Housing Authority, in collaboration with the Council on Aging, is planning a pilot program to bring home-cooked meals to Merri Village residents during two weekends each month, alternating with weekend meals for residents at the Amesbury Housing Authority.

Bob Mazzone, director of the Merrimac Housing Authority, presented the bones of the new weekend meals program on Monday to selectmen. It has been in the works for a number of months and represents a coordinated effort between the Merrimac Housing Authority, the Amesbury Housing Authority and the Merrimac Council on Aging.

Laura Mailman, director of the Senior Center and a Merrimac selectwoman, said that it will be “a pilot program to get the kinks out, lasting from March until June.” It will offer home-cooked meals prepared by Council on Aging staff, brought to the site and served. Meals will be delivered to those unable to independently come to the community building. The meals will be available to residents and limited family and friends. No walk-ins will be allowed.

“The purpose of the program is to have more oversight over the food for the tenants. The food will be supervised by a nutritionist who understands the needs of this population,” Mazzone said.

The program will be self-sustaining and will cost the residents a fee. Signing up for meals in advance will be required and payment will be expected even if plans change, Mazzone said.

The community building kitchen will be updated according to ServSafe food-handling protocols imposed by federal standards. The kitchen renovation will include new cabinets, deeper sinks, a double oven stove, a convection oven and a hand-washing sink.

“My staff can bake in bulk and freeze meals like lasagna and shepherd’s pie. We want to have food on hand if there is a storm. This is what we are cooking up. It is a mini meals-on-wheels program,” Mailman said.

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