Cooking Matters for Senior Residents

Attendees chatted and made jokes as they tested their culinary skills during a recent Cooking Matters class. They diced onions and sweet potatoes, sliced carrots, and minced ginger and garlic, all while learning about nutrition. Across the room, their classmates measured out spices to mix with oats, and coated frozen berries for dessert.

Today’s menu: pumpkin lentil soup and a mixed berry crisp.


The students were among the residents of Phinney Terrace, a low-income Seattle Housing Authority community for elders. Volunteers led the six-week courses. AmeriCorps service members from Solid Ground and Full Life Care teamed up to organize similar classes at four residences throughout Seattle.

Full Life Care helps residents of Seattle Housing Authority communities maintain their independence and housing by providing them with resources and supports. Full Life also offers health and wellness programs at SHA senior housing locations, including Phinney Terrace.

Cooking Matters classes teach the importance of nutritious meals and show how easy and inexpensive eating well can be. It is part of a national program to teach people with limited food budgets to shop for and cook healthy meals. It’s an excellent resource for local seniors.

Teaching with a Meal

Class starts by going over the day’s menu and the necessary ingredients. Attendees do the prep work, sauté the aromatics and pull all the dishes together, receiving guidance along the way from volunteers.

While the soup simmered and the crisp baked, volunteers discussed what to look for when shopping, including nutrition labels and brands, and fresh versus frozen options. As the noon hour approached and the aromas had become enticingly distracting, the lesson was over. It was time to enjoy the results of the day’s tasty work.

After they clean up and the chatting is done, class attendees receive a grocery bag full of all the ingredients they need to create the day’s menu on their own.