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Robert Behnke and a group of 7 other seniors would frequently gather at a table toward the back of the room at the San Leandro Senior Center to enjoy a hot, nutritious meal and conversation. They would talk about current events, tell each other jokes or reminisce on days past.

Spectrum's "pick-up and go" meals have temporarily replaced our dine-in senior meals, but still provide active seniors the opportunity to get up and get out of the house, fighting against isolation and loneliness, especially during shelter in place orders.

Robert says he loves the variety of food served by Spectrum and looks forward to choosing a few favorites each week and planning which days he'll drive over to the Senior Center. Without Spectrum lunches, he said he would probably just prepare a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at home.

Born in Illinois in 1944, Robert served in the U.S. Army overseas in 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War. Robert has been participating in Spectrum's Senior Nutrition Program since 2015, and receives meals several times each week. Robert said that before the COVID-19 pandemic, dining at the San Leandro Senior Center reminded him of going to the mess hall. "Except in the army, you don't have a choice", Robert said.

On the day that we visited with Robert, he and his fellow veteran friends Tom Swyers and Marvin Davis, still found a few minutes to chat in the parking lot after picking up their lunches. They all expressed that they are anxiously awaiting the day when they can gather and eat a meal together the way they used to.

Robert also keeps himself active though his hobby of collecting toy soldiers. He enjoys hunting for them at local shops and later painting, gluing and assembling them. Robert says he hopes to pass them along to his family someday.

Robert made it clear that Veteran's Day is a holiday to honor ALL the brave men and women who served past, present and future, and not only those who served during times of war . All of us at Spectrum Community Services salute and thank all of the veterans who have served!

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