5 Tips for Serving at a Ronald McDonald House


5 Tips for Serving at a Ronald McDonald House
This is the House
Where families meet
To continue their lives,
To eat and sleep,
To find their strengths
And dry their tears,
To look forward with hope
To better years,
This is the House that becomes their home.
This is the House that love built.
I have always enjoyed giving comfort to others through food. I am privileged to provide meals at the Ronald McDonald House Charities Southwest Virginia with a group of friends. Volunteers and community sponsors work together to provide a warm evening meal seven nights a week at the house.
The Ronald McDonald House Charities is a non-profit organization that strives to keep families together and near the medical care that is needed. Each RMH is a place for families to call home near their hospitalized child facing a serious medical crisis. It's the house that becomes their home. The RMHC Southwest Virginia offers 18 guest rooms, a library, family room, laundry room, kitchen and playroom along with two dining rooms that serve an evening meal every night served by community volunteer groups.

5 Tips for Serving at a Ronald McDonald House

I believe when you are given a passion you should turn it into a purpose. In providing meals, I started small in my church by always saying yes to provide a meal for families who just had a newborn. After this opportunity, I transitioned to a ministry that provided food for a ladies' devotional group. I find that life is all about seasons, and things are always changing and evolving. With two kids in the sports world, I am no longer as available in the evenings so my new volunteer group provides monthly meals at the RMH on Sunday afternoons. This ministry has allowed me to couple my passion for families with my love for providing a home-cooked meal to others.

5 Tips for Serving at a Ronald McDonald House

Numerous Ronald McDonald Houses organize their meal schedule with the convenience of TakeThemAMeal.com's online meal planning tool. I've used both TakeThemAMeal.com and PerfectPotluck.com over the years through my church and volunteer roles. I've learned a lot and I'm happy to share!
Tips to provide a meal at a RMH
  1. Contact the specific RMH near you or check its website for how to sign up to provide a meal. After you sign up, request the meals program policies and procedures if it has not already been provided. Trust me, this is an important step. It includes important details such as food must be prepared and cooked onsite in the RMH kitchen or you can purchase pre-made food from a commercial kitchen. And everything else you need to know! Some houses have slightly different policies so you need to ask.
  2. Then start to brainstorm meals that can be made for a crowd in a reasonable time frame. I have learned to adjust my menu planning and expectations for the allotted time. The RMHC Southwest Virginia serves between 15-25 guests per night. My favorite meals have been:
    • Baked potato bar with chili and toppings
    • Pork BBQ and baked beans and sides
    • Breakfast for dinner (brinner), often a crowd favorite!
    • Ham and macaroni and cheese and sides
    • Chinese food night
  3. Make and organize your grocery list. Don't forget numerous key ingredients are often stocked in the RMH community kitchen, provided by businesses and community volunteers. Check with the RMH for ingredients on hand, and then go grocery shopping for the rest. We often divide the grocery shopping list among our group.
  4. Show up ready to prepare and serve a meal and share encouragement. We have a two-hour window of time to cook the meal with a group of five volunteers and the meal is served buffet style. All leftovers are carefully put into storage containers and labeled with name of food and date, so families who are visiting a child at the hospital can come home, re-heat and still enjoy a home-cooked meal.
  5. At the end of serving the meal, it is our job to clean the buffet area, dishes and cooking area. The home is equipped with a commercial style kitchen that is maintained by each volunteer group. After doing dishes, we sweep and wipe down counters and tables to leave the kitchen and home as nice as before and ready for the next volunteer group.
To find a RMH near you search here.
There are many ways to make meals a ministry. Other women who have this same passion often inspire me. A great resource for me has been Janelle Paris. Her blog Comfy in the Kitchen devotes a whole section to cooking for a crowd.
About the author - Meredith Nicely is a home-school mom to two boys and passionate about serving others through a home-cooked meal and her community involvement. She lives in Virginia with her husband, Bobby Nicely, and their two sons. She usually can be found in her home creating lesson plans and meal plans all while sneaking in podcasts and Netflix binges. When outside the home she loves to attend sporting events and connect with families at her church.
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Adina & Maureen
Adina & Maureen

Welcome! We're thrilled you stopped by. Our own joys and sorrows have taught us that a well-timed meal delivered by a friend is one of the best gifts imaginable. In this space, we share our favorite recipes to take to friends, meal-taking tips, and other ways to care for those who are dear to you.

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