A local restaurant is joining forces with a nonprofit agency to feed area seniors.

Bella Cucina, 129 S. Main St., Ottawa, has partnered with Mid-America Nutrition Program for a voucher program that will allow seniors to enjoy the business’ Italian fare for a small donation.

“This will be a wonderful opportunity for seniors to socialize over a fantastic homemade meal at a minimal cost,” Sharon Geiss, Mid-America’s director, said.

Seniors may register for the program at 10 a.m. Dec. 27 and Jan. 3 at the East Central Kansas Area Agency on Aging, 117 S. Main St., Ottawa, to receive a voucher, for a small donation, that will cover the cost of the meal.

Beginning Jan. 8, seniors 60 and older will be offered a special menu of made-from-scratch Italian food from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. each Tuesday. Seniors will present the vouchers at the restaurant, and then receive their meal.

The menu for Jan. 8 is expected to be spaghetti and meatballs, Vicky McCurdy, the restaurant’s kitchen manager and pastry chef, said. But more than that, she said, it offers seniors a means of eating good food for an affordable price.

“[We partnered with Mid-America] to provide a really nice meal for them for a price that they can afford,” McCurdy said. “Maybe sometimes they think they might not be able to afford to eat at a place like this.”

The monthly menus are expected to include quiche and lasagna. All menus will be balanced nutritionally according to the meal planning guidelines set forth by the Kansas Department of Aging and Disabilities. Menus will change each month and be posted on the program’s website — www.mealsonwheelsbymanp.org

Serving Franklin, Anderson, Coffey, Linn, Miami and Osage counties, the Mid-America Nutrition Program provides meals to seniors 60 and older, through 25 congregate sites and home delivery. Seniors are asked to give a donation for the meals of about $3.

The partnership with Bella Cucina is the first program of its kind for Mid-America, Kathy Duderstadt, the nonprofit’s fiscal manager, said. The agency based it on a similar system implemented in Johnson County that provides grocery store vouchers for seniors. It is hoped, Duderstadt said, that the program will appeal to seniors who are not attracted to the meals at senior centers.

“It’s a nutritious opportunity for seniors,” Duderstadt said. “It’s also a socialization opportunity for seniors, because a meal typically in our society is a social event. We get together and eat.”

More information on the voucher program is available by calling Mid-America Nutrition Program at (785) 242-8341.