People and programs 08/15/2014

Bring a group of strangers around a table to cook and eat and they won’t be strangers for long. That's exactly how it's been for participants in 
Young at Hearta community kitchen for people over 60 at The Table Community Food Centre.  

Staying social and cooking healthy meals can be a challenge for some seniors. With a higher concentration of retirees in and around Perth, Ontario, The Table saw a need that a community kitchen could address. Running weekly since September, the program combines cooking lessons with important discussions on how to eat well later in life.

Coordinator Kait Byrick welcomed a new participant to the kitchen a few months ago. Recently widowed, the man started coming out to the Young at Heart group to learn some new cooking skills. He shared that his wife had been a great cook and he missed her varied, delicious meals. After making fish pie in his first session, he promptly tried the recipe out at home — and even better, he invited company over to share it. He’s been faithfully attending the program ever since, and sharing his newfound kitchen know-how with friends and family.

Stories like these are common in the Young at Heart program. Gaining kitchen skills and enjoying a nourishing meal are what bring many folks out in the first place, but it’s the good company they get to keep in doing so that keeps them coming back. Thanks to a New Horizons for Seniors grant, the group recently went on a food tour of Ottawa's Byward Market and Temple's Sugar Bush – two fun and memorable additions which became a highlight for many.  

Since the program launched last September, the weekly cooking group has been keen to try unfamiliar ingredients and to learn new cooking techniques. Their culinary projects have included making salad dressings from scratch, preparing meals for freezing in portions, and creating a vegetarian Thanksgiving meal.  

Eager to showcase what they’ve learned, the participants capped off the year by creating a Young at Heart cookbook. Due out in the fall, it features the group’s favourite recipes, participant profiles, and, of course, plenty of mouth-watering photos to tempt even the most reticent home cook. 

To get a glimpse into the Young at Heart program in action, check out our photo album on Facebook