GRAFTON, Mass. — If Election Day weren't already past, state Sen. Michael Moore (D-Millbury) would have the “famished senior citizen” vote locked up.
On Thursday, inside the gym at the Grafton Municipal Center, 90 retirees stopped by for a free turkey lunch, even though Thanksgiving is still a week away. The newly re-elected politician played busboy to his constituents.
The menu was traditional: hand-carved turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, corn, mashed potatoes, buttered rolls and coffee. But the waitstaff was untraditional: a state senator, his office staff and the usual senior center employees and volunteers who bus the tables, scrub the pots and mop the floor.
Before Moore wheeled a cart of apple juice on to the basketball court, he tucked his red tie inside his white dress shirt. Every year, Moore hosts this event, and every year the number of attendees grows.
Last year, 60 retirees showed up. This year, the senior center had so many requests, it had turn people away.
“We’ve been doing this since 2008,” Moore said. “It started when a restaurant in Millbury overbought turkey dinners. We took it off their hands, served it to a local senior center, and it's been a hit ever since.”
He does it every year, he said, to dispel the notion that it is only done to win votes during an election year. He also does it because his supporters look forward to it, he said.
Moore and his staff host the turkey lunch in every town in his district. On Tuesday, they served turkey to a party of 80 in Upton. In Shrewsbury, there were 160 hungry guests.
The meals are paid for with Moore’s campaign funds.
The food is prepared by a local supermarket. To serve all these meals, Moore and his office staff are all certified in food safety management training. They take an all-day course on cleanliness, how to avoid cross contamination, and how to properly store food.
The food started to come out just before noon, but a small group arrived nearly 45 minutes early, sitting strategically close to the kitchen so they were served first.
After lunch was finished, talk turned to Moore’s other big draw: the ice cream social held each summer.