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Smith: Okra not OK in Meals on Wheels

The surprise act at a fancy, charitable soiree at Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards came from a 94-year-old former Marine with a musicmaker in his pocket and a bone to pick.

Jerry Schiffer was invited onto the stage by Marrianne McBride, chief of the Council on Aging. Jerry is a client of Meals on Wheels, and McBride asked him to come up and say a bit about what the nutrition program does for him.

White-bearded and wearing a Marines cap, Jerry told the crowd at the Derby Day gala he's mighty grateful for the delivered meals — but what's with the okra he sometimes finds on his plate?

"Whoever put it on the menu should have their head examined," he said to the roar of the guests of the Meals on Wheels benefit.

Then he asked from his wheelchair if anybody would like to hear him play a song. Oh, would they.

He pulled out his harmonica and let loose a soulful rendition of "Old Kentucky Home" that got the crowd to clapping along, cheering.

Jerry left the stage with the assurance of the Council on Aging chief that he and his fellow Meals patrons have seen the last of the okra.

IN THE BAG: Imagine that you're hungry and looking into the pantry or cupboard for something satisfying and reasonably healthful.

If you're going to pack a sack of groceries for the postal carriers' drive Saturday, that sensation may help as you choose the food items.

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