Boxes, Bags and Buddies- virtual cooking classes with a senior citizen

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MARQUETTE, Mich (WJMN) – The Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress (UPCAP) and Community Action of Alger and Marquette (CAAM) are teaming up again to bring the Boxes, Bags and Buddies program to the community.

This three year pilot program will span over a four week period where a paired volunteer and senior citizen will receive a box/bagged meal at their doorstop containing a recipe card and all of the needed ingredients for that recipe. The volunteer and the paired senior citizen will then join via an online video chat platform or over the phone to cook the meal, eat and chat together. With the increasing restrictions and isolation periods required due to the pandemic, Tammy Rosa the Nutrition Program Manager for UPCAP says that this program will be a fun and unique way to increase connections between these seniors and people in the community.

“We really have two main goals,” Tammy Rosa the Nutrition Program Manager for UPCAP says. The first nutritional goal is to really help increase participate choice and participation on the program as well as nutrition education and also two, increase socialization and just really being able to connect with others throughout the community.”

With all of the senior participants all being home bound, now more than ever with the COVID-19 pandemic, Lori Stephens-Brown the Community Nutrition Services Director for CAAM stressed the importance for programs like this one in order to keep these seniors socializing.

“This is just a way to connect with other people and have that contact and get them comfortable with phone at the simplest or a zoom type of situation to connect with other people.” Stephens-Brown said.

Boxes, Bags and Buddies isn’t looking to stop once the three year pilot is up. Rosa says that after successful pilot programs like this one they are hoping to make this a year round event.

“One of our goals is to be able to offer this program,” said Rosa. “This is a three year pilot, but our goal is to be able to build in sustainability so this program can go well into the future.”

The program is still seeking volunteers for the program. If you are interested in volunteering, you can contact Lori Stephens-Brown at LStephens-Brown@communityactionam.org as well as via telephone at phone: 906-228-6522 ext. 301 or you can contact Tammy Rosa at rosat@upcap.org as well as via phone at 906-786-4701. You can also dial 2-1-1 and ask for Tammy.

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