Casserole Club Links Home Cooks With Local Elderly

Food-sharing clubs are pretty trendy with young foodies in urban areas, but a new program in the U.K. has harnessed the power of enthusiastic home cooks to help isolated elderly people in its community.

Connecting people who enjoy cooking with people who are isolated and can't cook for themselves seems like a natural extension. The cooks get an audience and the feeling of taking care of people in their communities, and the diners get home-cooked food and a chance to interact with their neighbors.

"It's a way for them to get a home-cooked meal, and to bond with their neighbors," said Ben Matthews of FutureGov, the company behind the project, in an interview with Co.Exist.

The project, Casserole Club, launched last year in London, and its cooks have served over 300 meals so far. Casserole is still in the early stages, and it's anticipated that the numbers will increase dramatically as more people hear about the program and sign up to participate. So far 2,000 people have signed up to cook for homebound or isolated elderly people who can't cook for themselves.

Volunteer cooks are given a quick background check and asked to watch a short food safety video. Once confirmed as a casserole cook, volunteers can search the Casserole Club website for elderly diners in their area who would like to receive meals. The cook calls the diner to schedule, then goes back to cooking for whomever they normally like to cook for. He or she saves an extra portion, then delivers it to the diner at the agreed upon time. 

"What we're finding is that people who are cooking food like it because they can get to know their community a bit better," Matthews said. "We also find that people who are receiving aren't passive. They get to build strong relationships, and share their experiences, as well."