This year our Nashville retreat was about more than just workshops and awards. Assisting Hands Arlington Heights, along with over 100 franchise owners and staff members, got together to package over 25,000 meals for seniors as part of the Hunger Project.
Organized by Feeding Children Everywhere, the Hunger Project helps to alleviate hunger among children and families in the U.S. and around the globe. At Assisting Hands, we focused on packing meals for a group we often don’t hear much about: seniors in need. Sadly, with medical bills and prescriptions taking priority, some seniors put food last on their budget.
A high-energy environment and a little friendly competition kept us motivated as we worked toward our ultimate goal of packing one million meals. After a few hours of pouring dried lentil beans through a funnel (25,000 is a LOT OF MEALS!) I started to reflect a bit on the importance of FOOD and Caregiving. I’m sure you’ve all heard the clichés:
Food is LOVE,
Food is our common ground, our universal experience.
Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate
People often ask if meal preparation, trips to the grocery store, and meals out are a part of our services. We talk about these as though they are peripheral, added benefits, but the truth is; the experience of the meal is integral to the role of caregiver. Our clients love to go to old favorite spots in Arlington Heights like Dunton House or Uptown Café to remind them of the times they had spent there with family and friends. Or, they share a meal with a new caregiver at home to break the ice. As our bodies age, we may lose our sense of taste, making eating less pleasurable. Or, arthritis can make lifting heavy pots and pans difficult, forcing some of our clients to resort to microwave meals. A familiar face in the house, cooking a fresh meal can awaken the senses and make someone feel SO MUCH better! Fresh food gives us a zest for life. Think of how you may have looked forward to a special home cooked meal or dinner out for a special occasion. These dining events can do so much for your loved one’s physical and mental health.
An Assisting Hands Caregiver can:
- Make trips to the grocery store with or without her client.
- Prepare fresh meals for the day of service and store some away for later that evening or the next.
- Provide transportation to a favorite restaurant for a meal.