Diners fill their plates during a recent luncheon at Edgerton Community Hall. Monthly luncheons in Edgerton originally started in order to provide nutritious lunches to seniors. The all-volunteer tradition continued more than 40 years, but will change as volunteers retire. File photo

Rhonda Humble
Four decades of tradition may be ending in Edgerton.
Since the mid-1970s Edgerton seniors have met at least monthly at community hall for a volunteer luncheon.
Although talks continue between the county and USD 231 regarding meal vouchers and a possible intergenerational program utilizing Edgerton Elementary, anyway you look at it, Edgerton senior luncheons are going to be different.
Barbara Moody, volunteer, retired after nearly a decade of service coordinating and preparing the monthly meals for seniors. She was honored at the Dec. 19 luncheon.
The senior luncheons started about 40 years ago, according to Mayrene Norris, former resident, who says she remembers the organizational meeting which was coordinated by the Edgerton Catholic and Methodist churches.
“’What this town needs is more sociability,’” Norris recalls former Father Richard Berger saying at that long ago meeting.
“This is what happens when churches work together,” Donna Bratton, resident, said.

The monthly luncheons bring together all members of the community. Here, Johnson County Board of Commissioners member Calvin Hayden enjoys a bite to eat with Mayor Don Roberts at a recent luncheon. File photo

Bratton said she is a third-generation attendee at the senior luncheons and has been treasurer of the group for longer than she can remember, taking over when Casper Widmer retired.
The Edgerton luncheon is probably the oldest, continuously-operating volunteer group in the county, Bratton said, and she recalls many of those instrumental in its organization and operation: Bertha Wilhite, Beulah Croan, Ellen Schmidt, Thelma Dwyer and Sharon Roussello – to name just a few. Many more participated and provided service through the years and made it a success.
Bratton recalls Norris used to provide cakes for the monthly birthday celebration, “and if she didn’t bring them, Bill (husband) did.”
“We had a great time,” Mayrene said. “That was when Rita Shay (Moore) was secretary back then, and everyone joined us.”
Moore is Edgerton’s former city clerk, now deceased.
Norris said her son David, born in 1969, used to go with her to the luncheons.
“They just made a fuss over David,” Norris said, and his particular favorite was “Grandpa” Peer, who lived to be 100 and grew up around Vinland, Kan.
“He used to make David sit by him,” Norris said. “David thrived on it.”
Mayor Donald Roberts has said previously that providing nutritional services for the city’s senior residents is a top priority, and he has made temporary arrangements with a local restaurant to cater meals until a more permanent solution can be found.
Edgerton is the only city in Johnson County that does not have a senior citizens meal program hosted by Johnson County.
In September, County Commissioner Calvin Hayden announced  an “intergenerational” pilot program that could allow seniors to socialize and have a nutritious meal while allowing students to gain from their wisdom and life experiences.
“Think about it,” Hayden said.  “How many of these kids don’t have grandparents, and solid parents and solid role models in their lives? What a great opportunity to help a kid.
“You have a good meal, and the children get the benefit of your wisdom.
“…It’s a win-win deal.”
Hayden said the statewide initiative would be piloted in Edgerton.