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Senior luncheon back on track after COVID break

On Nov. 17, the El Paso County Colorado District 49ís Patriot High School hosted a Thanksgiving luncheon for seniors in the community. About 50 people attended, including more than 20 seniors and school employees, business people and others from the community.Patriot High School is part of the Legacy Campus, an Alternative Education Campus. The schoolís Culinary Arts and Hospitality students cooked the meal under the guidance of Eric Lustig, who heads up the culinary program, which launched in 2016.The menu included roast turkey, smoked leg of lamb, smoked pork loin, (with a choice of gravies), mashed potatoes, a yam casserole, corn maque choux, a vegetable medley, sausage and apple dressing, and an array of desserts: pumpkin pie, key lime pie, pecan pie, cookies. Everything was made from scratch in-house. Culinary arts students also served the guests.The tradition of the Falcon Senior Services Thanksgiving luncheon started in 2007/2008. Originally, the senior citizens met at Core Community Church in Falcon. At those monthly meetings they hosted a potluck-style luncheon; with one of the group members preparing the main dish, and others providing side dishes, accompaniments and desserts. When the member who had been providing the main course could no longer do it, Jahna Badger, chairman of the Falcon Senior Services board, reached out to Lustig and inquired about their interest in providing the main course for their monthly luncheon meeting.Lustig agreed, and for a year the culinary program at Patriot High School delivered the main course to seniors at the church. Eventually, it seemed like a better idea to serve the seniors at the school, which was equipped with a small kitchen at the time, Lustig said. The success of the program eventually led to a mill levy override five years ago that allowed the school to provide a larger kitchen.The Thanksgiving luncheon supports a ìone time charity drive,î Lustig said. He is passionate about National Mill Dog Rescue, which he has been able to support through the Thanksgiving luncheons by asking attendees to bring ìold towels for rescued dogs from puppy mills.î Lustig said he also requests that attendees donate a non-perishable item for the food pantry.In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the monthly luncheons at the school. Two years and nine months later, the luncheon is back on the seniorsí monthly schedule. ìEric has done an incredible job and the kids, too,î Badger said. ìItís been a blessing.î

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