Rifle Senior Center cook recognized by county

Ryan Hoffman
Rifle Senior Center head cook Bobbie Dungan, left, and Mary Jane Hangs are honored at an awards ceremony in Frisco on May 20. Dungan, of Rifle, received the 2015 Garfield County Friend of the Seniors Award, and Hangs, of Silt, received the 2015 Garfield County Senior of the Year Award.
Courtesy of Judy Martin |

As head cook at the Rifle Senior Center, Bobbie Dungan loves everything about her job. From cooking meals to interacting with her kitchen staff and the people eating the food, the experience has been one of the most rewarding in her life, she said.

Dungan received a more formal award last week when she was named the winner of the 2015 Garfield County Friend of the Seniors Award. She traveled to Frisco last Wednesday to be recognized along with the winners from five other Colorado counties. The Garfield County Council on Aging has selected a friend of the seniors award winner and a senior of the year award winner for the past six years, said Judy Martin, senior programs manager. Mary Jane Hangs, Silt, won the 2015 Garfield County Senior of the Year Award. The process is driven by nominations submitted on behalf of the nominees.

This year Dungan received far more nominations that any other nominee, Martin said, although the Garfield County Council on Aging received so many qualified nominees that they created a third award and recognized Bob Spuhler, Glenwood Springs, with the 2015 Garfield County Senior Leadership of the Year award.

For Dungan, who has worked at the senior center for the past 15 years, the award was a first.

“It was really nice because I love my job and the people are wonderful,” she said, “and to be able to make meals that they appreciate … I was really honored.”

As head cook, Dungan is responsible for overseeing the preparation of meals distributed on a weekly basis in New Castle, Silt and Parachute, as well as the thrice-weekly meals in Rifle, said Tami Sours, Rifle Senior Center director.

“She runs the kitchen pretty tight, and the seniors love her,” Sours said. “She’s an important part of the program.”

Most of the people are “age appropriate,” Dungan joked in reference to her age.

While several people affiliated with Rifle Senior Center have been nominated for senior of the year or friend of the seniors awards in the past, Dungan is the first to actually win either award, Martin said.

Prior to coming to the senior center, Dungan prepared meals every Friday for the Elks Club. She loves to cook, although, having grown up on a farm, some of her meals are not always the healthiest, she conceded. The chicken fried steak is a favorite among the seniors. While not all the meals are as healthy as a nutritionist might prefer, her tenure has seen the establishment of a community garden, which provides the kitchen with fresh produce.

“I’m really proud of that,” Dungan said.

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