Feb 19Cookin’ Up Community
Since 1986, the Senior Hub has been providing services in Adams County, Colorado, to help older adults maintain their health and independence as they age. They offer a wide range of services including Meals on Wheels, adult daycare, food pantry, and Senior Tech that all help meet a variety of needs.
Last October, the Senior Hub launched a new program, Congregate Dinner, at Mercy Housing’s Holly Park Apartments in Commerce City. The program offers a boxed lunch every Tuesday afternoon and a hot, chef-prepared meal every Thursday evening.
In addition, each week, the meal is served up with a side of community engagement. From Bingo Night, to sharing the latest tips on technology trends and internet safety. The menu is never dull.
While the Senior Hub primarily serves senior populations, the Congregate Dinner program integrates a surprising twist. Youth volunteers from Holly Park assist the chef in the preparation of each meal and serve residents at their tables. Setting the table, offering beverages, and serving food allows the volunteers an opportunity to engage with the older residents and helps them build valuable skills to use in the future.
Additionally, the youth also help clean up afterward by washing dishes, sweeping and mopping floors, and putting away tables and chairs.
David is in 8th grade and has been a volunteer since the beginning of the program in October. He has already accumulated over 40 volunteer hours with the program and shows no sign of slowing down. He enjoys his time in the kitchen learning tricks and helping others.
“I never get tired of it. When I lived in Chicago, I used to help my grandma a lot. I love doing it,” David said.
Jessica, the Senior Hub Program Director, was excited to introduce this program to Holly Park residents and has been delighted with the positive response it has had.
“We have been so excited to see the wonderful reaction from the seniors who attend. And, we have an amazing group of youth volunteers who help every week. Since October 17th, we’ve served over 200 meals,” Jessica said.
Each meal is prepared with love by Chef Zoey who has a heart the size of Florida. She moved to Denver from “The Sunshine State” almost two years ago to attend Johnson & Wales University in the College of Culinary Arts. While in school, Chef Zoey honed her skills as she explored the many regions of Italy and worked as a private, live-in chef.
At the Senior Hub, she plans each month’s menu, shops for the ingredients and mentors the youth volunteers in food preparation, safety and above all… having fun! It’s been a very fulfilling experience for her and she’s proud to see the kids coming back week after week to help.
“I absolutely love working with these kids and having the opportunity to expand their minds and palates. When menu planning, I do my best to incorporate foods from different areas of the world in order to create a full-on learning experience. The best part is seeing people try new things and become genuinely excited about the food they are eating,” Chef Zoey said.
The program continues to evolve, and the Senior Hub has now started doing in-home delivery to Holly Park seniors who aren’t able to come to the community room. There is also dialogue about expanding these offerings to other Mercy Housing properties in Adams County in the future.