Connecting through cooking is the mission for the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation’s Just Cook Healthy Ageing programme, sponsored by Bupa New Zealand.
The four-week programme teaches basic cooking skills, builds confidence, and increases knowledge of basic nutrition for older people who may be learning to cook for themselves for the first-time.
“I’ve been running this course for four years,” says Priscilla Collins, New Zealand Nutrition Foundation programme facilitator. “We get such a range of people, from those who have never cut an onion to people who love cooking and want to rediscover their mojo.”
“What’s important is that people realise that as you age, your nutritional requirements change. An older person needs as much protein as an eighteen-year-old male. So, we focus on teaching people about reading labels and what key food groups they need to eat to support their health.”
Residents from Bupa’s Hugh Green Retirement Village and members of the local community attended classes to learn to prepare simple, nutritious meals and engage with their local community.
Resident Maureen Loughman says meeting new people following the COVID-19 outbreak was a key motivator for her joining.
“Groups like this not only provide great skills but also a chance to connect with others in the area and meet new friends,” she says.
Hosted at three Bupa Retirement Villages, the programme is open to both residents and members of the public. It creates connections in the community with reducing social isolation being a key objective of the Just Cook programme.
North Shore local Barbara Torrance sums up the importance of these community classes and encourages anyone who may be nervous to give it a go.
“You need to be brave to do something that’s out of your comfort zone. It’s important to give something new a try so that we can continue to learn new skills and meet new people. Once you’re here, you’ll see that everyone is in the same boat, and everyone is welcoming, and you’ll leave happy and glad that you gave it a chance.”