Cooking for Connection

The Cause

Unison at Veiner Centre's food security program is a vital initiative that responds to a pressing need in our community. It's not just about addressing the immediate issue of food security for vulnerable, low-income seniors; it's also about recognizing the profound impact that a simple meal can have on the broader aspects of their lives. Food is a universal connector, and this program goes beyond nourishing the body – it nourishes the soul by providing a platform for seniors to connect, share stories, make new friends, and build a vital support network. Social isolation among seniors is a growing concern and this project is a beacon of hope, offering more than just sustenance. It offers seniors the chance to belong, to find companionship, and to regain their independence and health. Importantly, the ripple effects of this program extend not only to the seniors themselves but also to their families and caregivers who witness the transformative power of connection and community. Your support for this project will help us create a stronger, more compassionate, and resilient community for all.

"Cooking for Connections" is a senior-centered initiative that aims to address the dual challenges of social isolation among seniors and food insecurity in a holistic and meaningful way. The core idea behind Cooking for Connections is to establish a program where seniors, particularly those who are at risk or facing social isolation, come together to prepare meals for themselves and their peers in a communal setting.

We will build interest and participation in this pilot project by providing these classes at no cost to participants for 12 months. Through this funding, we will also reduce the transportation barrier by using our transportation service to get participants to and from the classes. The hope is to transition to a pay what you can option where the cost of meals and transportation will be offset by paid participation and corporate sponsorship.  

Who Will it Benefit?

The program is open to seniors at risk of or experiencing social isolation in Medicine Hat, Dunmore, and Redcliff. This includes seniors living alone, those with limited mobility, and individuals with chronic health conditions. By participating in the program, seniors can experience improved mental and emotional well-being, enhanced nutrition, and a strong sense of community.

During each bi-weekly session the participants will produce approximately 8 portions each of pre-planned meals, made from scratch. A total of 1,728 meals will be prepared during the project, with 864 meals going back into the community to support seniors facing food insecurity.  

Successful outcomes and learnings from this pilot project will help to demonstrate and inform a successful operating model that will allow for future opportunities for growth and connections outside of Veiner Centre clientele and into the greater community. Conversations have already started regarding potential external partnerships. The goal of Veiner Centre’s Cooking for Connection project is to ensure seniors in need of supports living in Medicine Hat and surrounding communities can participate.  

This program is designed to improve participants’ mental health by providing opportunities to develop a social network - make new friends among peers who face similar challenges and increase participants’ sense of personal value by sharing skills and life experiences and giving back to the community.  

Mental health benefits will not be exclusive to those preparing the meals but also for the seniors who will benefit from the prepared meals that will be offered at our Wellness Market, as it will reduce the stress of preparing meals and affording healthy food options. 

In addition, seniors in need of additional supports will be identified and helped through other Veiner Centre channels. Each participant will meet our Senior Supports Facilitator to ensure they are receiving the financial and social benefits to which they are entitled.