Minister of Seniors Filomena Tassi addresses attendees of Come Share Society’s day program, detailing budget highlights that benefit seniors and announcing $25,000 in funding for the society’s Cooking up Connections program. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Minister of Seniors Filomena Tassi addresses attendees of Come Share Society’s day program, detailing budget highlights that benefit seniors and announcing $25,000 in funding for the society’s Cooking up Connections program. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Surrey cooking program for seniors receives $25,000 boost

Minister of Seniors announces funds during visit to South Surrey Come Share Society

A cooking program that offers seniors a chance to both socialize and eat well has received a healthy funding boost.

“It’s an awesome program,” Minister of Seniors Filomena Tassi said, in announcing $25,000 for the Come Share Society’s new Cooking Up Connections program.

Anticipated to launch at locations throughout Surrey in the coming months, the program brings seniors together for “batch cooking” – preparing several nutritious meals at once, which are then taken home and popped in the fridge or freezer for consumption in the days or weeks ahead.

In addition to social and health benefits, batch-cooking is a money-saver for participants, as the food used is bought in bulk.

The grant money includes funds to purchase equipment, including mixers that will make batch-cooking easier.

Tassi shared the news during a March 28 visit with participants and guests of the Come Share Society’s day program.

The South Surrey stop was Tassi’s first of four that day, in a series organized to discuss Budget 2019 “with stakeholders and organizations that support and care for seniors.”

READ MORE: Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

She named plans for a new agency to negotiate prescription-drug prices, develop an evidence-based list of prescribed drugs and a promise to spend $500 million annually on subsidizing drugs for rare diseases as among highlights of the budget.

She also lauded $50 million earmarked over five years for a national dementia strategy, as well as income-security efforts – including increased workplace-pension protection, proactive enrolment into the Canada Pension Plan when contributors hit age 70 and an increase in the Guaranteed Income Supplement exemption to $5,000 from $3,500.

“For the first time, we’re applying it to self-employed seniors,” Tassi added, of the GIS exemption.

The bump lifted 57,000 seniors out of poverty, she said.

The $25,000 for the Come Share program was a New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) grant. Describing the NHSP as “my fave,” Tassi said $100 million over five years has been allocated to help seniors stay active and thrive.

Tassi told Peace Arch News she is “seeing (firsthand) the difference that these dollars make” in the lives of seniors, describing people in tears as they share the impact of various programs with her.

Asked what is lacking in the budget, Tassi said “there’s always more work to do.”

“The prime minister said, ‘Filomena, I want you to travel across the country and listen,’” she said, pledging to “continue to engage” with seniors and stakeholders across the country.

South Surrey-White Rock MP Gordie Hogg noted there are “lots of challenges coming for people in this area.”

He described income-security as “very important.”

“It just tears your heart out to talk to these people that made such great contributions” but now struggle afford to stay in their homes, he said.

Tassi’s also visited Elim Village, Burnaby Community Services Society and Richmond Cares Richmond Gives Society.