For Cooking Couple, Retirement is not an Option

Cooking Couple

Serving the southern Teller County community for 17 years


After cooking and serving over 10,000 meals for the Community of Caring lunch program, there is no possibility that Betty Jo and Lucas Gallegos, both 85 years young, would even consider a well-deserved rest and accolades for a job well done.

According to the “cooking couple”, retirement is not an option—it would mean giving up the numerous and enriching relationships they have nurtured over the past 17 years. Gazing fondly at a smiling Lucas, Betty Jo says, “Every Wednesday morning we wonder ‘Why?’” while continuing preparations for the weekly meal.” It’s not an easy task!

But when that thought makes its way into the busy couple’s minds, it immediately vanishes. “Most of the people who come through (the serving line) are people we’ve gotten to know. When people show up, we don’t want to miss them,” Betty Jo explains.

The couple has been together 43 years; Lucas says he can’t remember when he hasn’t been with Betty Jo. “She has been and always will be the love of my life,” Lucas Gallegos warmly declares.

Along with the benefit of a nutritious meal, community members can build relationships as they become a part of the Aspen Mine Center family. The weekly gathering provides a warm meal and social interaction for community members who otherwise may not be inclined to venture out of their homes. “They come here to eat and it’s the only time to get together with other people. Many don’t have anywhere else to go,” Betty Jo says.

On average, the couple plans, cooks and serves an estimated 75-100+ people with delicious meals such as spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread and salad, or a chicken-rice casserole with vegetables and rolls. Accompanying each well-balanced meal is a choice of beverages, plus delicious desserts including an assortment of pies, cupcakes, cookies, brownies and cakes.

Lucas and Betty Jo say they will continue serving meals at every opportunity “to make sure people know they are not forgotten.” The Community Lunch at Aspen Mine Center, 166 East Bennett Avenue in Cripple Creek, is FREE and open to all ages on Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m – 1 p.m. Donations to help subsidize this program are appreciated.

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