A project to encourage people to think about their older neighbours who might be living alone has reached a major milestone in Barnet.

Community food sharing project Casserole Club, run in partnership with The Barnet Group, shows how Barnet residents can help their older neighbours by sharing an extra portion of their home-cooked meals.

Since going live in July 2013, over 250 community cooks from the Barnet area have shared 350 meals with older people who could benefit from a home-cooked meal. That’s a meal shared every day since the project started in Barnet.

Age UK research shows that people more than 50% of those over 80 years of age in the UK are lonely. This same research also suggests that malnutrition amongst older people is increasing. It is estimated that 1.3 million people aged over 65 suffer from malnutrition, which most of the time is preventable.

One example of how the Casserole Club is making a positive difference to people’s lives is the story of why local resident Vijaya decided to cook meals for pensioner Tom.

Vijaya says: “I think it’s fabulous, I’ve said that from the beginning. When I usually deliver his meal, I bring enough for two days. It’s nice to know I can give somebody a home cooked meal. To me that is important.”

Tom enjoys the company as well as having a home cooked meal: “I rather like it. It’s just somebody to come over. It’s nice, just what I wanted.”

Troy Henshall, Director of Business Services for The Barnet Group explains the extent of the problem: “Social isolation, malnutrition and food poverty more generally are growing problems. Older people especially often lack the means to access food aid such as food banks, and so are more at risk from malnutrition and associated ill health. This ill-health increases the burden and cost on our already overstretched health service and social care services across Barnet.”

Ingrid Karikari, Project Lead for Casserole Club, added: “I grew up in Barnet, so reaching 350 meals shared across the Barnet area is a fantastic achievement and shows the generosity of the people here. The area has real community feel as shown by the great take up of Casserole Club, with residents generally cooking about once a week. We’re now looking to recruit more volunteer cooks and reach more older people who could benefit from regular meals being cooked and delivered by a friendly neighbour.”