Three ways you can help older people in Volunteers’ Week!

This week is Volunteers’ Week. So why not discover new ways to get involved with volunteering in your community?

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Take a dip into Casserole Club

Casserole Club helps people do something great with an extra plate! By making it possible to share food and company with older neighbours, we help knit communities together. We’re so happy to have been the starting point for many a new friendship and many a delicious meal.

Casserole Club now has over 7,000 people who have signed up as a Cook to share an extra portion of food with an older neighbour. Here at Casserole Club, we are so overwhelmed by people’s enthusiasm and love for the project so we just wanted to say a big thank you to all of our volunteers for their hard work! We love hearing the stories and how Casserole is making such a difference to those involved – both Cooks and Diners.

“I think it’s a brilliant service, and I hope it continues to do well!”

Clara, Casserole Cook, Tower Hamlets

Thank you all at Casserole Club for really making a difference for me. I enjoy seeing Sophie every week and we have really hit it off. It’s helpful to me because I can’t go out easily and it enables me to eat better.”

Edith, Casserole Diner, Barnet

But we don’t just want to spread the love about Casserole – here are two other projects that we think are excellent!

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Use practical ways to embrace old age

When They Get Older is a service which helps older people maintain a quality of life and address the challenges which old age often raises.

“We like to think our web site can help families understand each other’s needs a little more and take practical steps to making life better for everyone.”

Have tea! (and cake obviously)

National charity Contact The Elderly is another way of helping older people tackle loneliness and social isolation. The charity organises monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people, aged 75 and over, who live alone.

“The group is welcomed by a different host each month, but the drivers remain the same, which means that over the months and years, acquaintances turn into friends and loneliness is replaced by companionship.”

Read more about Casserole Club and the other great ways to help older people here and see how you can get involved with Volunteers’ Week in your area.

We are always looking for new Cooks, so if you want to get involved in Casserole Club, go to http://www.casseroleclub.com to sign up today.

If you know someone who could benefit from a regular home-cooked meal in Staffordshire, Barnet, Tower Hamlets, Tameside or Reigate & Banstead, drop us a line at hello@casseroleclub.com or call us on 020 3475 3444.

Happy Volunteers’ Week from Casserole Club!

Casserole Club Volunteers Week

Our Cooks are great and – as it’s Volunteer’s Week, we want to take this opportunity to celebrate the amazing work of the Casserole Club community to say a huge thank you!

So far, over 4,000 people across the country have signed up to Cook for older neighbours and we are constantly overwhelmed by their enthusiasm, generosity and kindness.

Casserole Club connects volunteers in the community (We call them Cooks) to older neighbours who would appreciate a home-cooked meal (We call them Diners). Cooks prepare a meal in their own home, popping a portion in a container and dropping it round later that day to an older neighbour we’ve matched them with.

Often our Cooks stay for a cup of tea and a chat too. It’s a great, simple way of getting to know our neighbours, sharing delicious and nutritious meals and encouraging lasting friendships within the local community.

Casserole Club has made a massive difference to the lives of people involved, inspiring both Cooks and Diners to eat healthy fresh meals.

As 71 year old Laurie says:

“Having Lyn (Cook) in my life has given me the impetus to eat better and nourish my body more, it’s great, i’m very grateful for this service”

But it’s not just about the food, new Cook Caroline who has just started sharing meals with Anna in Tower Hamlets says:

“Safe to say I think I have made a new friend”.

Despite leading a busy London life Caroline finds it relaxing to volunteer with Casserole Club as it gives her the opportunity to savour the simple things, encouraging her to make time to cook and enjoy sharing food with someone new!

So thank you to all of our amazing volunteers.

If you often have a spare portion of dinner and want to make a difference to an older person near you, how about joining Casserole Club rather than throwing it away?

You can signup online on the Casserole Club website.

Also if you know someone who might benefit from being a Diner with Casserole Club please do get in touch by emailing us at hello@casseroleclub.com.

P.S. We’ve been nominated in the Tech4Good awards, so if you’d like to support our volunteers, please do vote for us as the People’s Choice: http://www.tech4goodawards.com/vote

New Video on Casserole Club and Food for the Elderly

Food For The Elderly - Watch Casserole Club

Beth Price from Bournemouth University has put together a brilliant video of Casserole Club as part of her Food for the Elderly project:

“British families throw away the equivalent of six meals worth of food every week, meals that could easily be shared with an elderly neighbour who struggles with cooking.

One London based scheme is determined to tackle the issue of malnutrition and isolation by bringing people together over food.

With the number of meals-on-wheels being delivered decreasing year by year community initiatives are becoming even more important and you can find out more about the work Casserole Club is doing by watching the video below.”

As part of the video, Beth interviewed Carrie Bishop, who helped start Casserole Club. Here’s what Carrie had to say about the project:

“We thought food is clearly a social object, it’s something that brings people together. Soe started to think is there a way for communities could cook for each other. We had the idea of Casserole Club and we started to test it out at bit. People really seemed to respond really well to the idea, which is why we decided to take it forward.”

As Beth mentions at the end of her video, if you’d like to get involved with Casserole Club as cook, or you know someone who would benefit from having a hot meal delivered to their door, then visit the website and sign up.

There’s no pressure for you to cook multiple meals, you can just cook and deliver one meal and leave the club again but if you enjoy it you can keep cooking for the same people as often as you would like.

Even if the Casserole Club isn’t in your area yet, you can still register your interest by signing up online.

Thanks for the great video, Beth!

Food and the City: How do new food systems impact on our cities?

Last week, Matt Skinner from Casserole Club took part in the sixth Design Culture Salon, a series of occasional discussion events hosted by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

This event’s theme was “Food and the City”:

“Re-thinking food has also been combined with the delivery of public services, improving the urban environment and enhancing community cohesion. These projects are varied in their methods,visions and goals and have socio-cultural, economic and environmental repercussions, as well as the potential to catalyse a politically active citizenship. What can we learn from these food based initiatives? What are their aims and approaches and how far do they achieve their goals?”

The chair for the evening, Gabriel Wulff, began by saying that from ‘guerilla gardening’ to ‘urban bee-keeping’, the topic of designing food systems has been building an audience in the UK.

Matt spoke about how designing food initiatives like Casserole Club can impact our cities:

“While ‘foodie culture’ in Britain has created ripe conditions for people to share recipes and cooking stories online, Casserole Club’s diners (most of whom are aged over 70 and are socially isolated) are not well-connected to this.

Technological and cultural barriers need to be negotiated. It has been key to work with local councils in addressing these issues of isolation.”

Matt also positioned Casserole Club alongside others community food projects, such as the Incredible Edible project.

“What we are learning from this and other projects is that food, in particular home-cooked and home-grown food, is a powerful tool for bringing people together.

The visibility of these projects is a factor in their success, whether through online platforms or in physical spaces in the city.”

You can read the full write up of the Food and the City event over on the Design Culture Salon blog.

The next Design Culture is on 10 January 2014 at 7pm in the V&A Museum, London on the subject of “Transparency in Design”. Booking is free, but essential. Book here.

Photo by mattjiggins

Surrey’s New Campaign Could Provide Inspiration to Casserole Cooks

Hey, Casserole Cooks! Feeling stuck when thinking of a delicious meal to make for your Diner from your leftovers? Surrey County Council is here to help with their new Love Food Surrey campaign and accompanying Facebook application.

With staggering facts about how much food Surrey alone wastes each year (over 75,000 tonnes!), the Love Food Surrey campaign offers an interactive platform for people to share their creative recipes and tips to make the most of their leftovers. So stop tossing those apples that are a little too soft, and the banana that has some brown spots on it, and use it to make Fruit Bowl Muffins! Soak your wilting greens in cold water to salvage them for your sandwich, and save your money for something you don’t already have in your fridge.

In honor of the new application, the person with the most likes on their posted recipe will receive a gift, generously donated by local fine food and drink companies. The competition closes on 31 December, so get signed up and post your best leftovers recipe!

Love Food Surrey makes using leftover food and saving money easy! Click here to like their application on Facebook and gain access to their online campaign. Then visit Casserole Club to find a Diner near you who would appreciate a portion of your home cooked meal! And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to find out more ways to get involved with your community.

Recipe of the Month: Yummy Mummy Halloween Cake Balls

Are you looking for a scary (but cute) treat to make for your Halloween bash this year? Try these spooky mummy cake balls! At only 102 calories per cake ball (hardly anything when you think of all the yummy goodness that it incorporates) this Halloween treat will be a hit with the kids, as well as the Mums!


Ingredients:

16.5 oz package yellow cake mix

6 oz plain fat-free Greek yogurt

1 cup water

2 large egg whites

Baking spray

48 oz Baker’s white chocolate

Mini chocolate chips for the eyes

1 wooden skewer

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly spray a the cake pop pan with baking spray.

Combine the cake mix, yogurt, 1 cup water and egg whites in a large mixing bowl and beat until combined. Place the batter into a pastry bag or large ziplock bag with the tip cut off.

Pipe the batter into the prepared cake pop pan and bake about 18 minutes (I rotated the pan after 10 minutes to be sure they baked evenly). Let it rest 5 minutes before opening the pan.

Place the cake balls on a wire rack and repeat with remaining batter. Using a scissor, cut the seam off the balls.

Refrigerate the cake balls for about 45 minutes, this helps the chocolate stick to the cake.

Melt some of the chocolate in the microwave according to package directions, careful not to overheat the chocolate. If it’s too thick add a drop of oil to thin out. Use the wooden skewer and insert into the cake ball, then dip in melted chocolate. Let the excess drip off then place each ball on parchment paper.

Place remaining chocolate into a piping bag and drizzle onto the tops of the balls to make a criss-cross effect to resemble a mummy wrap.

Place the mini chocolate chips over the chocolate for eyes and set aside to dry.

Servings: 48

 

For more tasty treats, check out the Casserole Club Pintrest!  And join Casserole Club to connect and share food with an older neighbour who would appreciate tasting your mini mummies!


Recipe courtesy of SkinnyTaste.com

Did the Great British Bake Off Finale Inspire YOU to Start Baking?

An estimated 8 million viewers tuned in to the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) Finale last night on BBC 2, where Frances Quinn, 31, was announced the winner of the 2013 series of the popular show.

Quinn wowed the judges and audiences across the country with some of the most creative and intricately designed baked goods the show has seen in all four series.  From her very first bake, a giant jam sandwich cake, to her final showstopper cake inspired by William Shakespeare’s “A Mid Winter Night’s Dream”, Quinn has proved that she is a deserved winner.

Watching all of those delicious cakes being presented each week has inspired loads of people, especially here at Casserole Club, to try their hand at baking. But what about you?

Are you suddenly confident you can create a five-tiered checkered cake decorated with passion fruit-infused chocolate butterflies and pineapple bumblebees? Or perhaps you just want to give the classic (yet delicious) Victorian sponge cake a whirl.

Either way, instead of going through all that effort to bake it, taking one bite (or slice) of it like GBBO judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry then casting it aside, try bringing some round to an older neighbour who would appreciate some homemade goodies!

Even GBBO runner-up, Kimberly Wilson thinks it’s a good idea! A few weeks ago she retweeted one of our posts, and we were so starstruck we just had to tweet back:

If you have some GBBO-inspired cake going spare, try sharing your tasty hard work.

Why not give Casserole Club a try?

You only have to do it once, after that no pressure.  Even one meal means so much to our Diners. Find out more and sign up here.

Happy World Food Day!

“Healthy People Depend on Healthy Food Systems”


68 years ago today the Food and Agriculture Organization was founded, and since then, every 16 October marks World Food Day.  World Food Day is organized by the United Nations to raise awareness of the ongoing issues in food production and hunger.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) strives to inform people of the worldly problems with the quantity and quality of our foods, stating their objectives as the following:

Picture and information courtesy of http://www.fao.org/

  • to encourage attention to agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental efforts to this end;

  • to encourage economic and technical cooperation among developing countries;

  • to encourage the participation of rural people, particularly women and the least privileged categories, in decisions and activities influencing their living conditions;

  • to heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world;

  • to promote the transfer of technologies to the developing world; and

  • to strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development.

A great way to help end hunger is by sharing a plate with someone in need, whether it be through Casserole by cooking and older neighbor a home cooked meal, or through donating food to Food Banks, such as our friends at Tower Hamlets Foodbank.  It can be a little or it can be a lot, but any help goes a long way in the aid to end hunger.

To learn more about what the FAO is doing to help secure better food systems, or to get involved, visit http://www.fao.org/getinvolved/worldfoodday/home/en/.