The smell of tomato-rice soup wafted through the Prairie City Senior Center Oct. 4 as hungry diners lined up for lunch.
Marjean Koser, in her second week as head cook, stirred the large pot of soup as assistant Tom Roark flipped ham and cheese sandwiches on the grill. The luncheon was also served with broccoli salad and generous portions of spicy apple cake.
Koser said she started as assistant cook last summer, when Roark was head cook. Then they switched spots. Roark said he prefers assisting.
“Tom is a big help to me,” Koser said. “He’s the brawn.”
They serve, on average, 50 to 60 people each Wednesday at noon. Home deliveries are also made for any people who are homebound. Everyone is invited, not just seniors.
Koser said she’s cooked big family meals before — she’s usually in charge of her family’s Thanksgiving dinners — but “not this big,” she said.
She said her favorite part of the job is planning the menus, arranging them a month in advance.
“I like baking cakes. I like soups and casseroles and enjoy putting them together and finding the recipes,” she said.
Koser said she and her husband, Ken, decided to retire in Prairie City four years ago, because Ken had fond memories of hunting in the area with his dad when he was a young man.
“My husband came here (to the center) before just to meet people, and that’s how I got my start coming to the senior center,” she said.
“It’s a bunch of nice people that we cook for,” Koser said. “I enjoy feeding people. I like seeing their smiles.”
The meal for Oct. 18 is oven-roasted chicken thighs, classic rice pilaf, vegetables and peach-cobbler dump cake.
On Oct. 25, the meal will be Flatlander chili, corn bread, salad and carrot-cake cupcakes.
A special upcoming event is the Thanksgiving meal, served on Wednesday, Nov. 22, when the diners are invited to bake a pie to share.
Harold Preston is president of the center, the corporation, kitchen, site committee and building, and the Board of Directors oversees the overall function.
Frances Preston is chairwoman of the Board of Directors and vice chair of the site committee.
Anyone who would like to rent the senior center can contact Prairie City Mayor Jim Hamsher at 541-620-2861.