Cooking for one and eating alone can lead to health problems over time, including poor nutrition and isolation. And that’s especially true for seniors, who may struggle with resources, lack of support and mobility issues.
But an innovative new pilot program in Chilliwack — a Community Kitchen for Seniors — will aim to bring seniors together for meal-making, as a way to improve their health and social well-being.
The Chilliwack and District Seniors Resource Society (CDSRS) has partnered with the Mount Cheam Lions Club and their charitable society to bring the program to life. The Mount Cheam Lions Club Charitable Society donated $5,000 to get the program up and running, and the club has donated their hall and kitchen as a location (complete with equipment) that will be needed to operate.
Community kitchens are popular in other communities, and usually created in collaboration with food banks and community service agencies as a way to address food security, nutrition, healthy choices and eating on a budget. Chilliwack’s program is designed for low-income seniors, and the pilot program will be open to about 16 to 20 people, says Coletta Holmes, executive director of the CDSRS.
Holmes recently met with Lion Dave Mackintosh, and Alice Cain, president of the Mount Cheam Lions Club, where they gave her the donation on behalf of the charitable society. She explained that the seniors involved in the program will meet twice a month at the Lions Club Hall on Spadina Avenue. The first meeting will be a chance to plan meals, look for coupons, budget and make plans to shop, in small groups.
They will then shop (either in small groups or on their own) for the groceries needed, and reconvene back at the hall for their second meeting of the month. And there, they’ll prepare and cook their meals together, eat together, and take meals-for-one back home to reheat.
“Everyone’s involved, and all the participants are the volunteers to make it happen,” Holmes says.
Overall, participants will get many benefits of being involved. They’ll learn how to budget their groceries, they’ll perhaps find joy in cooking for one again, learn about nutrition, and even make new friends to socialize with.
“And when they are home again, eating those dinners they made as a group, they can think back to the day they made it and maybe feel a little less alone,” Holmes said.
Cain said supporting seniors is always an easy choice for the Mount Cheam Lions Club, adding that they already work very closely with the CDSRS.
“They are the ones who built the community,” Cain said. “You have to give back.”
To learn more about the Chilliwack and District Seniors Resource Society and what programs they offer, visit www.cdsrs.ca, or phone 604-793-9979, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.