People and programs 09/13/2013

In September, The Table CFC added a new community kitchens program to their schedule: the Young at Heart Cooking Group, which has been drawing a full kitchen's worth of Perth-area residents between the ages of 60 and 84 to cook and share stories together. The Perth area is home to a high seniors' population, so adding this program to the mix felt like a natural choice. Participants have vastly different experience in the kitchen: there's the avid pie-baker who joined the program to figure out how to get his crust just right, a couple of eager husband-and-wife teams, and a few beginners who want to learn new skills in a social environment. One participant suffers from early-stage Alzheimer's; he and his wife come every week as a way to stay active and vary their routine. With guidance from coordinator Rosie Kerr, members of the group prepare a healthy meal together, and then sit down to share the food they've prepared and discuss topics that range from early kitchen inspirations to cooking memories, nutrition, and favourite recipes. 

The key to the program's success so far is making sure everyone has an opportunity to bring something to the table. Last session, Kerr organized a recipe-swap so participants could plan the coming weeks' menus together. Talk of seasonality reigned, as meals often include produce harvested from The Table's backyard garden — one week's menu boasted a kale, cherry tomato and feta quiche and cucumber dill salad, featuring 10-metre dill, kale and tomatoes. Variety, too, is the spice of this kitchen: upcoming sessions will include time in the garden, as well as a canning workshop and, of course, more stories. Kerr is impressed by how many friendships have formed between group members already. We see a cross-generational cook-off between this group and the After School Program in The Table's future. Now that'd be a great story to share over a good meal!