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Special Events, Foods and Recreation Therapy

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Early 1900's recipes. A great blend of old style recipes that simply melt in your mouth.

Pizza Creations
submitted by Jennifer Haar, Activities Director of Destin Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center on June 25, 2007

Size of Group: 10-20

Equipment: 2 large cookie trays (24

At our facility, we work very closely with the dietary department in preparing special snacks for the residents during socials/cooking programs. They were able to provide us with 2 large cooking trays and a large oven to cook the pizza in. Have a large group of 10-20 residents sit around the table. Move tables together creating a family-style setting. Introduce the topic: Pizza Creations. Ask the residents if they have ever made homemade pizza before and what their favorite topping s are. Present supplies listed above, in center of table. Place slices of bread on cookie sheet (as many that can fit on it). Next, spread sauce over each slice. Sprinkle cheese on the slices, then go around the table taking the residents
Dinner & a Movie
submitted by Kelly covone-henning, MA, ADC of masonic villages @ sewickley on July 17, 2005 

Size: 60-65 (assisted living level) adapt to nursing home residents needs/levels

Equipment: tables, linen, food/beverages, movie-projector, vcr/dvd, etc...give away prizes

Objective: The meal is centered around the theme of the monthly movie that was chosen. It is a time for the residents to have a special meal and to relax following it. They do not have to stay for the movie, it is their choice if they want to or not.

Description: Example of one of the dinner/movie themes that we did was:

Theme: Weddings
Movie: My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Supplies: Wedding cake, wishing well, wedding souvenirs for everybody, wedding table wear, etc.

All the food items were prepared by the dietary department. The dietary department and activity department work together to set up the room, serve the residents the meal and with the cleaning up afterwards. Each month the dietary manager and myself work together to come up with a monthly theme. We alternate lunch/movie and dinner/movie times.

Other thematic ideas
Mrs. Doubtfire for mothers day
Mr. Mom for fathers day
With Honors for school days


Chili Cook-off Event
submitted by Jennifer Huston, City of Fort Collins Recreation Division

Size: 15


3 Large Pots
Sauce pan
1 lb. dried black beans, uncooked
2 tsp. veg. oil
2 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped green bell pepper
5 cloves garlic, crushed
5 med. ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped (5 cups)
1 tbs. dried oregano
2 tbs. chili powder (or more if you like)
1 tbs. ground cumin
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. salt
31/2 cups water
1 6-oz tomato paste
1 tbs. red wine vinegar]

GARNISHES: optional

Grated parmesan cheese
Plain non-fat yogurt
chopped tomato
Chopped fresh cilantro

Objective: To provide an opportunity for adults with developmental disabilities to compete in a Chili Cook-off event sponsored by the City of Fort Collins Senior Center. By competing in various categories, participants will learn basic cooking skills of making a variety of chilies over a two session duration.

By using organic and local produce, participants may find the benefit of going to a local farmers market inexpensive and a fun social setting. Using fresh ingredients involves everyone with washing, cutting, and even using a switch with a blender for those unable to hold a knife.

My expected outcome is to have fun with this activity while increasing participant's knowledge about cooking and providing an opportunity for the community to taste some of our wonderful chili. The one outcome I truly hope comes of this program is an increase in self-esteem when it comes to cooking for friends and family members. I hope by telling others about our involvement in a cooking contest there will be some social opportunities for friends and families to have more dinner parties, BBQ's etc.

Description: Our volunteer of the year, Rick Aulino, who has been teaching cooking classes for nine years will instruct the participants on various tasks. There are personal care attendants, volunteers, and staff to oversee the progress. No one stands around in the kitchen when Rick leads! We will have a cooking session for two night the week of the Chili-cook-off. The day of the event participants will be asked to meet before hand to carry out any last minute jobs. The recipes submitted must be original. This will be the exciting part for all of us. Our recipes are always original! We will provide the transportation, ingredients, pans, etc.

How much Ice Cream do you need for a large special event activity?

For 500 one-scoop serving, you need...

  • 13 gallons of ice cream
  • 20- 12 ounce bottles of topping
  • 5 bottles of cherries
  • 5 cans of nuts
  • 200 cones
  • 300 bowls and spoons


Ever since I read the A. Tyler book's "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant" I've been dying to try a special covered dish dinner with residents and family. I work in a Long Term Care Facility, and almost daily I'll hear someone say something like "I miss my wife's meatloaf", or "Gee, I haven't had Grandma's Chocolate cake for years". I would invite families to bring in samples of old family favorites and let everyone share the memories that go with each food. As soon as the holidays are over and we are looking for a family get together idea, I'm going to suggest this one!

Submitted by Kathryn Dillon

To add to Kathryn's idea, I once wrote to the families of all the residents and had them send in their mom or dad's favorite dish which we put together as a cook book.

At an acute inpatient psych facility, I used to have bi-monthly covered dish dinners for the adolescent unit. The hospital provided the main dish while the family members brought the teens favorite side dishes and desserts.

Charlie Dixon


Here's an opportunity for your volunteers and staff to do a special activity with and for residents of your facility.

Invite volunteers and staff to bring in a covered dish of foods from other countries. You may even plan cooking sessions with residents/patients and they can bring a covered dish to the event.

With planning, you can print-out a menu and have the tables and room decorated with flags and colors and objects from around the world.

Invite patients and staff to the activity/dining room to sample the various foods.


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