Good nutrition is important for everyone, but incorporating high-quality food, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, can be challenging for people as they age and their appetites diminish. Local food—nutritious, delicious and increasingly available at Farmers Markets around the country—may be one answer to the problem. Showcasing local food and how to use it was the centerpiece of the RSVP hour-long “Lunch and Learn” event, which provided participants with a free, healthy, locally made lunch; a cooking demonstration; and information about local food resources and the health benefits of volunteering.
Organized by RSVP of Southwest Montana, the event attracted 25 current RSVP members, several their guests, and numerous community partners. All attendees received not only a lunch, but also a sample of the Roasted Beet Soup that was made from local beets and prepared on site, in front of the audience. The chef from a local restaurant, 2nd Street Bistro, joined a registered dietitian and nutrition services manager at the local hospital to provide the demonstration, which covered not only how to cook the soup, but also what specific health benefits can be derived from local foods and how local food production can be encouraged. Other panelists included the director of the local food pantry and the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program coordinator from Western Sustainability Exchange, a Livingston organization that stresses sustainable living. Both spoke about the importance of local food, as well as how seniors can both access local affordably and support its production and the community. The director of RSVP of Southwest Montana also spoke about the health benefits of volunteering.
The Lunch and Learn received two local sponsorships: an in-kind donation from Matt’s Old-Fashioned Butcher Shop and Deli, which provided the participants’ bag lunches at a reduced cost, and a cash donation from the Community Closet to defray event expenses. The Livingston-Park County Public Library hosted the event for free in its community room. Participants were enthusiastic about the program and expressed interest in future events. The beet soup was devoured, recipes were shared, and questions were answered. At least one new RSVP member was recruited through the event, after attending as a guest.
For more information about RSVP and other SeniorCorps programs, please visit: www.seniorcorps.gov