Late for lunch, Judy* moved quickly into the dining room. She strolled to her table beside me and sat down groggily. I was being fed the hamburger, french fries, green beans and fruit. I planned to eat the hamburger and only a few fries. Every time I took a bite of a french fry, Judy watched, seeming to savor each of my bites. She was hungry because she had slept through breakfast.
All around her, trays were passed. After waiting 15 minutes, she asked whether she would be served last. When she realized she would be waiting a bit longer, Judy’s face dropped with frustration. Her eyes longingly followed each tray as it was delivered.
Occasionally there are food items on my tray that I do not eat. If they are Judy’s favorites, I give them to her when my tray arrives. Even though residents are not supposed to swap food, sometimes the aides look the other way.
When Judy’s tray arrived, she spun it around to reach the fries and realized she was not given any. The kitchen had run out and served a noodle dish with her hamburger. Judy sighed dejectedly and began to eat the hamburger.
When I finished my lunch, five small french fries were left. My aide dropped the empty condiment packets on top of them and started to pick up my tray. Then, Judy asked, “Can I have the fries?” I said, “Do you want them even though I have eaten part of them?” Judy nodded eagerly, and my aide put them on her tray. Judy grabbed the fries and hungrily stuffed them into her mouth.
I felt bad for Judy. I did not need those french fries and wished I had left them. Then Judy would have had a full portion. As it was, she ended up eating five small and, no doubt cold, french fries.
Many residents would like to have their favorite foods more often than once or twice a month. Although the french fries served are heated in the oven and do not taste like fast-food fries, they are the best substitute some residents get.