Blog - Growing Life Skills and Connections with Community Meals

For Susan Lewis, a Social Worker with Providence Care’s Community Mental Health Services, the Community Lifestyles program has been a successful way to help her clients grow community while building up their essential life skills, particularly learning how to cook on a budget.

“Our clients tell us what they would like to learn how to cook,” says Susan, “and we show them how and where to shop, help them set a budget and teach them how to prepare the meal.” The program is instructional but delivered in a fun, community-oriented way. All of the groceries for the monthly meals are purchased with the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF) Comfort and Care Funds and feed anywhere from 11 to 14 people.

“This month one of our clients is celebrating a birthday and has asked for tacos. We’ll do tacos with Mexican rice and some type of dessert.” The program emphasizes healthy, tasty foods that are quick and easy to make with ingredients that can be found at discount grocers or the food bank. Susan’s clients range in age from 20 to 65 and their diagnoses vary. “They are living independently with community supports and their income is minimal,” she says, “and these meals are a nice treat for them.”

UHKF’s Comfort and Care fund grants are administered by social workers at the various healthcare sites and can cover expenses such as travel, emergency child care, clothing, gas cards, parking, food, prescriptions and assistive devices. In 2017/18 more than $135,000 was granted for patient comfort and care expenses and just over $20,000 came directly from We Walk! for Your Comfort and Care, UHKF’s annual fundraising walk for employees of Providence Care, Kingston Health Sciences Centre and their family and friends.

“Many of our clients get a lot of formal psycho-educational groups,” says Susan, “and this is more social—there’s a lot of laughter and joking. We put the radio on. Somebody sets the table, somebody else does the dishes and everyone chops lettuce and vegetables. It’s a good way to get out and socialize, especially for our clients who are more isolated.

“A lot of our clients don’t have much family support or a large social circle,” adds Susan, “so they really look forward to our Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving meals.”

For more information or to make a donation to WE WALK! for your comfort and care email