Childhood Cancer

Buying meals day after day in the hospital cafeteria is expensive. Check with the hospital social worker to find out whether the hospital has food discount cards or free meals for parents. Some hospitals deliver meals to families via a meal cart or provide sandwiches in a family lounge at meal times. Get directions to a grocery store near the hospital to purchase fresh food and healthy snacks if you are comfortable leaving for a short amount of time. Check to see whether the floor has a refrigerator for parents’ food and stock it with your favorite items. Remember to put your name in a prominent place on your containers.

Our hospital provides vouchers for the cafeteria that can be used instead of ordering food for the room. For us, they have been a godsend. The food on the tray is much worse than what is in the cafeteria. Also, oncology patients have no spending cap on the vouchers, so we can get a few extras. When our son is not able to go to the cafeteria, we go down and bring the food back to his room.

Many hospitals have cooking facilities for families where they can cook or microwave favorite meals brought from home. Family and friends can bring food when they visit, and some parents order extra items for their child’s tray. Ordering out for dinner can also be a nice change of pace for you and your child. As long as there are no medical restrictions, food from local restaurants can be delivered to your child’s hospital room. You can check with the nurses to see whether they have menus from local restaurants or recommendations.

Just the smell of food nauseated my daughter. I’ll never forget taking the tray out in the hall and gobbling the food down myself. I always felt so guilty, and thought that the staff viewed me as that parent who ate her kid’s food. But it saved money and prevented her meals from going to waste. I also did not want to leave her side for the few minutes it took to go to the cafeteria although, in hindsight, the walk would have done me some good.