NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – It was no April Fools’ joke that hot lunches provided by the Office of Elderly Affairs stopped in Newton Falls. The city knew it had to step in and fill the gap. Today, we were looking into the new effort to help seniors with a nutritious option.

Newton Falls’ senior citizens were enjoying hot meals for lunch on Monday. The Senior Kitchen opened on April 5 and has been a huge success.

“Just being the third week having it and last Friday, having over 50 people here and we’re getting more to-go orders,” said volunteer Patti Hanzes.

The village realized the importance of the seniors getting together, talking and making connections, and even participating in programs. So, city manager Pam Priddy had an idea to make the lunches on their own for the seniors.

“I donated the funds for that first meal and then from there, it’s been self-sustaining ever since,” Priddy said.

It started with just two meals that first week, but so many people are showing up and paying the $3 that it’s replacing the program the seniors lost — and it’s even better.

“Before, they were getting meals but they weren’t home cooked. I think just having that home-cooked atmosphere and knowing that that’s what we’re doing, the seniors love it,” Priddy said.

The program has already expanded to three days a week. It could grow and cover five days a week.

“Keep cooking that good food, making those good desserts,” Hanzes said.

The seniors are enjoying it and they’re talking about it with others. There’s no government money — it’s all being done with donations.

“I think we’re gonna keep it for as long as we can and help the seniors the best way that we can,” Priddy said.

The only complaint the program has received so far is the portions might be too big.

Wednesday’s meal will be wedding soup and barbecue sliders. Dessert is a secret for now but we’re told it will be worth it!