The Casserole Club is all about donating leftover portions of home-cooked food to elderly neighbours who might not be able to cook for themselves. Here member Ben Matthews tells us how it will help this Christmas.
I love the feeling of preparing for the big Christmas dinner. Roast potatoes smothered in gravy, stuffing the turkey until it's full, and then sitting down with family and friends to share food and stories.
Neighbours in need
But for whatever reason, not everyone has the money/time/ability to cook a slap-up Christmas dinner of their own… and that’s where The Casserole Club steps in. In case you didn’t catch this lovefood article back in May, here’s a recap of what the club does: we connect local people so that those with extra portions of home-cooked food can share their leftovers with neighbours in need, most of whom are elderly. We’re like a local, community-led takeaway service.
Over the past year, many wonderful ‘Casserole Cooks’ have been sharing extra portions of delicious home-cooked food with older ‘Casserole Diners’ in Barnet, Tower Hamlets, and Reigate and Banstead in Surrey. We’ll be expanding to other areas soon.
Sophie and Nora
To take one example, 51-year-old actress and Casserole Club ‘Cook’ Sophie Thompson is currently sharing a weekly meal with 85+ year-old ‘Diner’ Nora. “I heard about Casserole Club when I saw a poster in a local shop window,” said Sophie. “I thought, ‘ooh what a great idea!’ so I got in touch. I met up with a member of the Casserole Club team and they took me through a few things and explained how it worked and took my photo.”
“I think it’s great because it’s a way of meeting new people in the community and being a part of Casserole Club gives Nora’s daughter a break too, as she knows her mother can get a meal every Friday from me.”
But there are still many elderly people who remain socially isolated in this country. Recent Age UK research shows that more than half of over-80-year-olds in the UK are lonely; the same report suggested that malnutrition among older people is increasing. It is estimated that 1.3 million people aged over 65 suffer from malnutrition, which most of the time is preventable.
How you can help
Over the festive season we want to encourage people to think about their older neighbours who might be spending Christmas alone, and how you could help them by taking part in projects like the Casserole Club.
Here are a couple of ways to help an older neighbour this Christmas:
- pop in for a cup of tea to make sure they’re OK;
- if it’s snowing outside and dangerous for them to go out, offer to pop to the shops for them to pick up anything they need;
- offer to test their smoke alarms – many older people don’t realise when their alarms aren’t working
- Look out for signs that your older neighbour might not be well – post piling up behind door/in mailbox; milk accumulating on doorstep; curtains not moving; distressed pets;
- this year, we're also asking our Cooks to share a portion of their Christmas dinner with an older neighbour on Boxing Day.
We’d love to see lots of lovefood readers get involved with Casserole Club, as we know your food will be truly appreciated by an older person this Christmas.
If you live in Barnet, Tower Hamlets or Reigate and Banstead, then sign up to Casserole Club and we can match you with an older neighbour this Christmas. If Casserole Club isn't currently in your area, we'd still love you to sign up so we can let you know when we're active in your neighbourhood.
And remember - try and save a portion of your Christmas dinner for an elderly neighbour this year.
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