St. Paul Elder Services facility in Wisconsin hosts meal-prepping event for caregivers

February 2024
Event volunteers and participants work together to assemble freezer bags of ready-to-reheat meals.


Serving as a caregiver for a person with dementia or other impairment can be extremely taxing. To alleviate a bit of the burden, the St. Paul Elder Services campus in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, recently hosted an event to give caregivers ideas for using meal-prepping to free up their time. St. Paul gave the 32 attendees a slow cooker and multiple meals they could take home and prepare.


"Our goal is to provide some relief from the day-to-day stressors of caregiving by providing resources and ideas for easy meal preparation," said Peyton Ford, a student at the University of Wisconsin — Eau Claire who is an administrative intern at St. Paul. Ford set up the event as one of several projects she has been completing as part of her internship.

"Cooking for Caregivers," which took place at St. Paul Jan. 25, was open not only to caregivers of people receiving services at St. Paul but also to any caregivers in the community. The event included a presentation from a dietitian about how to do meal prep and how to ensure the meals are nutritious. After that presentation, attendees could taste test the seven meals that they could assemble as ready meals to take home. Next, they visited seven stations staffed by volunteers with a different meal available at each one.

Each attendee of St. Paul Elder Services' "Cooking for Caregivers" event received this goodie bag and giveaways. St. Paul is in Kaukauna, Wisconsin.

Volunteers helped attendees scoop ingredients into freezer bags. At the end of the two hours, caregivers left with seven bags containing at least one meal per bag. All they had to do at home was to reheat the contents.

Some of the choices were Mongolian beef and a healthy version of macaroni and cheese, with or without meat.

St. Paul used a grant from the Thrivent financial services company to fund the event. In addition to the free slow cooker and recipes, attendees got a gift bag with T-shirts, freezer bags, cutting boards, pens, notebooks and other tchotchkes.

Ford is studying to become a nursing home administrator. She was inspired to pursue this career path because she witnessed what her own grandparents went through as her grandmother had dementia and her grandfather cared for her.

"I understand the emotional and physical toll this takes on families, and I have a passion to be there for families," Ford said.

A volunteer prepares to serve meals to event participants so they can taste test the slow-cooker dishes they'd be assembling.

As part of her 12-month internship at St. Paul, she's worked in every unit on campus. Her administrative internship special projects have included helping to reopen units closed during the pandemic and learning to use certain pain-management machines in the therapy unit.

Ford said attendees gave the meal-prep event high marks on a survey. They appreciated the chance to gather with other caregivers and to get advice and ideas not just about meal-prep but also about caregiving in general. Ford said St. Paul may offer such programming again in the future.

St. Paul is part of Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity Sponsored Ministries.


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