THEY say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.

Whilst the gender roles of that statement are outdated, the message remains the same: that you an express love for a person through food.

This perhaps one of the reasons why the charity Meal Makers, which this year is entering into its fifth year, is so popular.

Elderly people in Glasgow are being given home cooked meals by strangers in an attempt to alleviate malnutrition and cut down on food waste.

Meal Makers, a charity developed in 2014, has created a local food-sharing community, connecting people who love to cook with elderly neighbours who would appreciate a home cooked meal.

An estimated one in 10 elderly people in Scotland are affected by malnutrition linked to age, frailty and an increasingly inaccessible care system which affects their ability to eat as they wished.

Meal Makers works to address the issue by encouraging chefs and diners to sign-up for their scheme. Widow John Caffrey, from Dennistoun, has been receiving a weekly meal from Maureen Frediani since 2014. The pair have become close friends.

Maureen joined Meal Makers after spotting one of their posters in the doctors surgery.

“I was sitting in the doctor’s surgery and there was a poster on the wall that advertised Meal Makers. I had just finished working, and what else was I to do?”

“It mentioned something about having extra dinner left over, which we always have,” she explains.

“I love to cook and love having people to cook for, but my children are older now and have flown the nest, so I don’t really have the excuse.”

When Maureen began as a volunteer cook, she initially cooked for John and another neighbour, Nan. Sadly, Nan passed last year – but Maureen had no qualms about continuing.

She says: “I get a lot out of it, and I’ve learned so much from John. He knows everything. John has had every job under the sun - he trained to be a priest, has worked as a long-distance lorry driver, and even worked in the RAF.”

“We’ve built up a good friendship. Apparently he doesn’t like onions and garlic but I still put them in his food – it’s fine as long as he can’t see it. He also loves eggs of any type, scrambled, fried, poached. I can’t stand them, but I make them for him, because I know they’re his favourite.”

John is a verified ‘meat and two veg’ type who loves roast dinners but has ‘scunnered’ himself with chocolate, so opts for Battenbergs.

She adds: “He takes four sugars in his tea. I know it’s bad for him but I think, he’s still here after all the years.

“You can’t not spoil him and you can’t not love him.”

John is still very independent for his age – he is 86 – but enjoys having the company of Maureen’s visits.

“I’m a very independent person,” he says. “I was paying my rent one day, and the man in the office signed me up. Before I knew it, I was signed up with Meal Makers.

“It means I don’t have to cook, which is great, and she lives across the road so it’s very easy.”

In the five years since launching, the charity has created more than 789 pairings, and shared over 18,400 meals.

Those signing up to be ‘cooks’ range from students, to people who have retired and those with a passion for food.

Emma Black, fundraising and marketing manager of the charity Food Train, was one of the masterminds behind Meal Makers.

“When we started the charity, we couldn’t have imagined it’s success.

“Meal Makers being in it’s fifth year is just fantastic. John and Maureen are a perfect example of a couple that has worked brilliantly together.”

Emma says that the hardest part for those who use Meal Makers is just the first step, which is accepting that a little bit of help would go a long way.

“Sometimes it can be hard for people to ask for help, or even allow themselves to let that help in.

“Once they have taken that step, though, everything is easier.

“We have so many brilliant pairings, and so many of them are genuine friends now.

“Some of the meals that are made are amazing, too – there are some really talented cooks. I’ve seen things like babaganoush and all sorts.”

Emma says that the crux of the idea remains the same – a volunteer will sign up and is matched with an elderly person to cook for.

Matches are made based on compatibility, so there is more of a chance for the two to bond. Whilst Maureen chooses to cook for John, volunteers are urged to share a portion of their meal which may usually have gone to waste, battling both loneliness in the elderly and banishing food waste from households.

Whilst John might not be a fan of the more adventurous dishes, the fact remains that the charity is a fantastic way of inviting someone to have a seat at your table.

With Meal Makers starting all over Scotland – from Edinburgh to Glasgow to Dundee – there is space for everyone.