My father spent a week in hospice before he died. He received wonderful care there and we felt blessed that we were able to stay with him around the clock and that he was able to have visitors. Most of the visitors brought us food, and it was greatly appreciated.
We’re definitely a family who turns to food for comfort, so bringing food to us was the ultimate way of saying, “I care”. It doesn’t really matter what you bring to a family during a hospice or hospital stay, it’s the thought that counts.
The main thing is that no one cares about dieting at a time like this- counting calories takes a backseat to concern for your loved one. The best foods are loaded with calories, carbs, and refined sugar. They also require the least amount of effort- as in: Don’t make me cut a pie and look for plates and forks. I’d also avoid bringing any food that needs to be served hot or cold, with the exception of pop or juice boxes. It’s also nice to have finger foods that come in individual serving sizes.
If you’re visiting a family with a loved on in hospice or the hospital and you’re wondering what kind of food to bring, here are some suggestions:
Donuts. The good old stand-by, the number one portable comfort food, donuts. What’s great about donuts is that you can bring a wide variety with just a dozen. Bavarian cream, crullers, jelly-filled, fry cakes, glazed, chocolate, apple fritter, peanut, coconut- you name it- there’s a donut for everyone. Plus, they’re so easy to eat- like a grab-and-go snack.
Cookies. Another high-calorie, lots of sugar, individual finger food treat. Any cookies are fine, but if you have an Italian bakery nearby that’s even better. The Italian cookies aren’t quite as sweet as the brand names you find in grocery stores and you can pick and choose to bring a variety in just one package. My mother also liked the fact that she was able to offer other visitors a cookie when they stopped by. (Yes, we’re the old-school type of family where my father’s dying and my mother’s telling everyone to eat.)
Candy. Always a treat, even better during a time of sorrow. I know I’ve written about candy before (here) so to see a box of Russel Stover’s in my dad’s hospice room gave me a ‘warm inside’ feeling. Again, candy is another high calorie, high sugar treat that you can just pick at mindlessly.
Fruit basket. A deviation from the high-calorie/low-nutrition theme, but after a few days of junk food you kind of go, “Oh yeah, I remember fruit”. A banana or an orange can be a nice change of pace as long as there are some carbs nearby to fall back on.
Fried chicken. You don’t have to bring anything else- no one cares about the side dishes anyway. There’s no other meat that’s as comforting as a bucket of fried chicken. The beauty is that fried chicken is good hot, cold, or at room temperature; and it’s kind of that halfway point between a meal and a snack. (At least for my family.)
Bringing food to a family who has a loved one in hospice or the hospital is a wonderfully caring gesture and will be greatly appreciated by the family.