To bridge the gap between youth and seniors, 85-year-old Betty Williams opened her doors on Monday (Dec. 11) to welcome members of the Ottawa community into her kitchen.
It marked the inaugural event of three complimentary Feed the Joy cooking classes, a collaborative effort between Metro and Ontario seniors’ organizations in Ottawa, Kingston, and Toronto.
“There’s really two reasons why we decided to do this. There was one around cooking knowledge when it comes to millennials, from their knowledge practices, meat handling, cleaning, etc. A third of respondents couldn’t pass the bare minimum quiz, so we saw a gap there. Another reason was social isolation, especially when it comes to seniors. Then, we’re looking for a way to combine the two generations. And so, what a great opportunity for us to involve seniors and sort of bring the art of cooking to the younger generation,” Mathieu Robitaille, head of marketing at Metro Ontario, told Grocery Business.
The goal of the cooking classes goes beyond simply instructing on culinary skills, Robitaille said. It’s about connecting local communities. With research indicating a decline in basic cooking knowledge, particularly among younger generations, Robitaille said Metro saw an opportunity to reverse the trend. The cooking demonstrations provide a platform for local seniors to showcase their cherished family recipes, ensuring that the art of traditional cooking is preserved over time.
The Dec. 11 event, which took place at the Christ Church Bells Corners in Ottawa, set the stage for the subsequent two gatherings on Wednesday (Dec. 13) and 17 in Kingston and Toronto, respectively, at the association centres.
“Across cultures, regardless of your background, elders carry the wisdom to pass down knowledge, stories, and even beloved recipes, like the perfect holiday ham. But as the 2023 holiday season approaches, many millennials are stepping up to own family hosting duties for the first time. And so, we’re giving them the help of some true, seasoned kitchen pros,” Joe Fusco, senior vice president at Metro, said in a statement.
To bolster its “Feed the Joy” campaign this holiday season, Metro will be making generous donations of $1,500 to each community partner involved in the initiative. The money will go to the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre, Seniors Association Kingston Region and Dixon Hall, a non-profit organization supporting Toronto’s downtown-east community.
“It was my mother and grandmother who taught me how to cook. The ability to participate in cooking sessions with the Seniors Association gave me the opportunity to broaden my cooking horizons. It’s exciting to think I can have a hand in passing down what I learned to the next generation through Metro’s Feed the Joy classes,” said Helga Ballmore, senior host of Kingston’s event.
Furthermore, Mina Mawani, CEO of Dixon Hall in Toronto, said, “We’re thrilled that Metro shares our collective vision of combating social isolation in our communities. With 75 per cent of our senior clients living alone, this partnership with Metro will give our seniors the gift of food and friendship this holiday season, at a time they could use it most.”