By Laurie Murray, Volunteer Coordinator for Homeland Hospice
The end-of-life journey is a time when extra comfort and support is needed as patients and their families are often fatigued physically, emotionally and spiritually. A hospice caregiver is often faced with situations that can change daily or even hourly. Frequent medications, dressing changes, safety, toileting, feeding, and emotional support easily fills their day, and in many cases, their night too. In addition, there are situations in which a spouse or caregiver may never have prepared a meal. The patient is the one who always handled that daily task.
Homeland Hospice has found that for many patients and their families a simple home-cooked soup or casserole that can be taken from the freezer, heated, and enjoyed is a huge blessing. It is comfort for the belly! The meals are prepared by volunteers either working independently or as a group. Before Covid-19, our focus was having church groups prepare the meals. Now, there are people looking for opportunities to serve from their homes, so we are seeing more individual cooks becoming involved.
Some of our volunteers simply cook a little extra when they are preparing a meal for their own family. Church group often use the left-overs from a community or church meal to make a yummy dish or soup.
The meals are prepared in 8×8 aluminum pans, wrapped in aluminum foil, placed in a gallon freezer bag, labeled with the ingredients and reheating instructions and frozen. Volunteers then either contact Laurie to pick up a meal from them or the they are welcome to delivers it to the Homeland Hospice office. The meals are stored in a freezer at the office until it is delivered to a patient by hospice staff or by another volunteer, a “Casserole Courier.”
The meals do not remain in the freezer for long! With a census of over 200 patients, twenty meals can disappear very quickly. We are always accepting new cooks to assist with this program.
The Soup & Casserole Program is just another “extra” that is provided by Homeland Hospice. It helps in bring comfort to our patients, but also alleviates some of the stress from family caregivers.
Mary Beth, a faithful volunteer making soups and casseroles stated, “I’m so happy to help. All of the events of the world have made me feel helpless. This opportunity has once again made me feel helpful.”