Unique lunches for nursing home residents

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The Columbia VA Health Care System’s nutrition and food services (NFS) wanted to do something special for its Community Living Center (CLC), which cares for nursing home and hospice patients.

CLC Veterans are predominantly older and have complex health conditions that often require strict dietary plans. So, they developed the idea of a “MockDonald’s” menu as a welcomed change from the usual meal offerings.

Cook Felicia Sayegh and Theodore Bilbo, supervisory cook, enjoyed preparing special “Mock Donald’ meals for their Veterans.

“We love to do this for our Veterans”

“We love to do this for our Veterans,” said Tracy Burke, chief of nutrition and food services. “This special meal helps to break up the monotony of the regular three-week menu cycle.

“We used to do this more often and have special meals or buffets for holidays. Today, large gatherings are not possible for everyone’s safety.”

While not being able to provide authentic McDonald’s meals, the staff offered Veterans the choice of a quarter pounder with cheese or a crispy or grilled chicken sandwich for the main course (pictured above).

It was complemented with a side of French fries, a baked apple pie for dessert and a special treat of a mango pineapple smoothie for a beverage.

“This meal is great and tastes amazing,” said Veteran Clifton McNeely, a CLC resident. “All the food has been consistently good considering it is from a hospital. And the people have been extremely courteous and considerate.”

Not just a meal to the Columbia VA

It takes teamwork to make sure Veterans enjoy the meals prepared at the Columbia VA. NFS worked closely with dietitians, recreation therapy and housekeeping to make the “MockDonald’s” menu a successful event.

“Veterans get to tell us what to prepare for them, not just the same meals day after day,” said Theodore Bilbo, the supervisory cook. “We are happy to give our patients the choice of what they would like to eat as long as it meets their nutritional plans.”

Providing individualized nutritional plans

The Columbia VA has 28 registered dietitians. Four are completely devoted to working with inpatient Veterans and CLC residents. They create individualized meal plans to ensure Veterans receive tasty and nutritional meals.

Columbia VA also has dietitians dedicated to home-based primary care Veterans. The facility’s seven outpatient clinics provide instruction on dietary choices to lead a healthy lifestyle or achieve a specific health-related goal.

The “MockDonald’s” meal is just one of many ways that Columbia VA is working hard to continually improve and enhance Veterans’ patient experiences.


Dillon McConnell is a public affairs specialist for the Columbia VA Health Care System.

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