The large room in the Grain Valley Community Center is nearly full with about 80 seniors plus volunteers – some of whom arrived two hours earlier – ready for lunch, information, entertainment and fun.

It’s the community’s monthly senior luncheon, a tradition of about 40 years.

Allen Lefko, chair of the Bank of Grain Valley and long active in the community, said it started in the late 1970s with a fish fry that led to a luncheon.

It’s still going, on the first Wednesday of the month. The format shifts a little in some months. July is a picnic. December is a Christmas meal that Lefko and Jan Redding, also long active in the community, put together.

“That’s our fun thing to do,” she said.

The cost is $3 (if people can pay), and the city has underwritten it for years. This year, the city took over running it, too.

“Our goal this year is just to get the word out about this event …” said Sara Nadeau, the city’s public information officer.

This week, the agenda was full.

There was food: roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, peas, roll and a strawberry-and-Jell-O dessert, prepared by food services at the Grain Valley School District. “The school district is huge in making this possible,” Nadeau said.

There was a speaker: How many in this room have a bag, ready to go, with a first-aid kit, flashlight, list of medicines and important phone numbers, bottled water, protein bars and other items, asked Les Boatright of the Central Jackson County Emergency Management Agency? Community readiness is important, he said, “and a big part of that is individual preparedness.”

And there was a raffle for everything from a box of Junior Mints to a 1,000-piece puzzle. (Organizers are always looking for donations.)

Mostly, it’s a forum for catching up and looking ahead:

• Police Chief David Starbuck gave Lefko a certificate of appreciation for his support of the shop-with-a-cop event in December. “Allen is always there for us,” Starbuck said.

• Redding gave an update on the baskets on each table for donations. Focus For Grain Valley uses that money to buy athletic shoes for youth in need. In five years, she said, those baskets have brought in $3,361.30 – enough for 276 pair of shoes. She brought this up “because I want you all to know how wonderful you are,” she said.

• A reminder to sign for next month, March 7. And, Nadeau pointed out, wear green for St. Patrick’s Day.