A group of seniors are sharpening their cooking skills with a new class that aims to fill their bellies with healthy, easy to prepare meals that help them live longer and more fulfilling lives.

The Wellness Kitchen at Calgary’s South Health Campus, has been spending the past few weeks teaching seniors the basics of cooking.

Organizers say the idea came from a concerned staff member.

“It really started with a staff member coming to me, saying that ‘my mother has recently passed away, my father is living in the basement and putting boxes of food in the microwave. I need him to take better care of himself’,” said April Matsuno, acting manager of the Wellness Centre.

A lot of the participants in the classes are coming from situations where their partner did all the cooking so they had no idea where to start.

Others do have experience cooking, but have fallen behind because they don’t want to make the effort anymore.

Matsuno says no matter what the reason for not cooking anymore; she says that all the foods in the course encourage good health and confidence.

“They’re comfort foods, healthy foods, easy foods to make. We want people to leave the kitchen saying ‘that wasn’t so hard; I can go do that at home’. I think that a lot of participants have done that and they’ve found that joy and confidence in cooking that they never had before.”

Kristyn Hall, the dietitian who leads the class, says that all of the recipes were specially designed to deal with common issues that seniors face.

“All the recipes in the program were selected with the goal to prevent chronic illness in this particular age and stage of life.”

The participants themselves are also seeing a great benefit by attending the course.

“I am inspired. It’s good for my health and I notice I’ve lost a few pounds. I am energetic, I am sleeping better, so it’s all good,” said Gray Burdon.

For more information about the Wellness Kitchen, visit the website.

(With files from Kevin Fleming)