Parish Nursing Provides Resources for Local Churches

Church and food go hand-in-hand. “It’s a sign of hospitality,” said Joyce Kaatz, Parish Nurse at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. “It brings people together.”

But a recent study showed people who regularly attend church activities are more likely to become obese, and it made Kaatz and Church Food Coordinator Debbie Eekhoff examine the menus at their church. They realized the food could be healthier and they wanted to learn how. So Kaatz and Sanford Health’s Parish Nurse Coordinator Karla Lubben applied for a grant from the Sanford Health Foundation’s Parish Nurse Fund for a Parish Nurse Food Seminar.

Parish Nurses play a key role in the community by integrating faith and health and acting as registered nurses, health educators, counselors and advisors in the parish. The Foundation’s Parish Nurse Fund helps provide education to the parish nurses, by offering grants for special projects and ministries and reducing the fee for this seminar.

“As a church, we’re also a teaching institution and we need to set the example in mind, body and soul,” Kaatz said. They invited Parish Nurses and kitchen volunteers from various churches throughout the community to find ways to improve the food they serve.

“We know ours isn’t the only church with challenges,” Eekhoff said.

Nearly 30 participants representing 15 churches in the Sioux Falls region attended the three-hour seminar. It was a collaborating workshop with Sanford Health’s Center for Health and Well-being.

Sanford Clinical Dietician Margaret Kuiper, Chef Kristin Laberis, Lubben and Kaatz developed the agenda. The attendees learned about light snacks, food safety, healthy cooking techniques, menu planning and budgeting. Laberis demonstrated four recipes and served samples to the class.

Kuiper said the Center for Health and Well-being staff enjoyed hosting the seminar as a way to reach into the community through church.

“Parish nurses are in a good position to touch the lives of people right in their home settings and in their community,” Kuiper said. “It’s nice to give them tools to be more effective.”

Eekhoff, who feeds on average 500 people after worship services and church activities during the week, immediately altered her menus after the class. Food was often catered in and potlucks included hot dishes, soups and sides high in sodium. Now she uses a steamer to prepare vegetables, serves fresh fruit, adds more seasonings so people don’t overload on salt and pepper and plates the food for portion control.

To learn more about the Parish Nurse Fund or to make a gift to support it, visit or call the Sanford Health Foundation at (605) 328-5700.

Posted Date: January 2014

Parish Nursing Provides Resources for Local Churches

Parish Nurses play a key role in the community by integrating faith and health in the parish, and even helping in the kitchen.