Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley hosts the first SOCOS Social in King City on March 3 for senior residents at the King City Recreation Center. The event will return every first Thursday of the month. (Sean Roney)

KING CITY — Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley’s SOCOS Social (SOuth COunty Seniors Social) program expanded to King City on March 3, hosting the first of which will be monthly events for senior residents at the King City Recreation Center.

MOWSV Executive Director Regina Gage said the senior socials began last September in Soledad and Gonzales because the organization noticed a need for social activities while serving meals to senior clients in South Monterey County.

“Especially during the pandemic, people have been so isolated, not being able to go out and do a lot of things,” Gage said. “So we thought, what if we bring the community together in different cities in South County?”

The SOCOS Social was designed as a lunchtime event, where seniors age 60 and up could enjoy a free meal along with receiving information from partnership agencies. Gage said Meals on Wheels acquires each meal from a local restaurant or caterer.

Some of the groups present in King City included Alliance on Aging, Blue Zones Monterey County, California Highway Patrol and the American Red Cross. Seniors were also given goodie boxes from Food Bank for Monterey County. 

To top off the atmosphere, live music was performed at the first King City luncheon by local singer Jeff Hinderscheid.

Jeff Hinderscheid sings retro songs as dozens of guests join in for the first SOCOS Social in King City, hosted by Meals on Wheels of the Salinas Valley on March 3. (Sean Roney)

The monthly events expanded to King City in March with the help of King City Recreation Coordinator Andrea Wasson, who made it possible to use the city’s recreation center. The goal for King City’s luncheons is to host them every first Thursday of the month.

According to Wasson, every one of the few dozen seniors who came through for a meal last Thursday stayed for the sit-down luncheon, rather than take a to-go option. They were able to walk around and visit information booths and even enter a raffle for a Blue Zones gift basket.

“Everything that we bring here as far as services is no cost to the seniors,” Gage said about the tables around the building. “We’re not in the business of trying to sell them anything.”

She said the table system was a way to focus on the luncheon, by having the spotlight speech only last three minutes and then have guests able to visit tables at will, rather than have long speeches by a main presenter.

Currently, there are no plans for other South Monterey County communities to be added to the senior social roster. 

Gage said her Meals on Wheels staff not only oversees the three existing luncheons and a fourth in Castroville set to begin in April, but also serves an estimated 225 seniors per week as part of their core mission of delivering free meals to those in need.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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