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How to Organize Meals for Others

Updated: May 23

There are many situations where receiving meals might be helpful for someone, including life transitions such as moving, welcoming a new baby or the adoption of a child, if someone has been hospitalized or sick, following the death of a friend or family member, and the like. Providing meals for others is one tangible way we show our care.

If you have wanted to provide meals for someone, and haven't been sure where to start, we hope this post serves as a helpful template for you going forward.

  1. Ask the person/people if they would like to receive meals. Not everyone feels comfortable with this, for various reasons. Accept their "no" if they decline.

  2. If you receive a "yes" response, ask them if they have a certain list of people from whom they would feel comfortable receiving meals. For example: they may only be comfortable receiving meals from the people in their Community Group and not from their entire church. Have them send you their list of "approved" people.

  3. If they would like to receive meals, here is a list of suggested questions to send them before putting together their organized meal plan:

  • Do you want people to deliver their own homemade meals to you or just send you gift cards for meal delivery services or local restaurants? Or both options?

  • If you would like to request gift cards, which options do you prefer? Example: Grubhub, Seamless, certain restaurants in your area?

  • For digital gift cards, to which email address or phone number should people send?

  • How many people will be fed? (# of adults, # of children)

Specifically regarding homemade meals:

  • What are the food allergies or strong food dislikes in your home? Are there any other dietary considerations (Example: low sodium, no gluten, vegan, etc)?

  • What are your favorite meals or your favorite restaurant options?

  • What is the time range for people to drop off? (Example: between 4-6 pm)

  • Should I add a note that people are ONLY dropping off food and this is not a time to stay and visit? Or would you like people to visit with you?

  • How long and how frequent would you like meals? Would you like every week night for 1 week? Would you like every other night for 2 weeks? Would you like 4 weeks with alternating weeknights (Example, week 1 & 3 would be M/W/F drop-off and week 2 & 4 would be Tu/Th drop-off)?

  • What are the delivery details including address, cross streets, and any building info to gain access? Does your building have an elevator or stairs only? Should the meal be delivered to your apt or left with a doorman/woman?

  • Which phone number can I give people that they may call if they have trouble finding your place?

  • Is there anything else I should know before I organize the meal plan for you?

When you send the questions (or this blog page) make sure the person/people know that they can take their time getting back to you. Chances are, you are offering meals because something has happened in their life so make sure they know that there is no rush to respond to your offer for meal provision.

After you have received all of this info, you can begin plugging it into the necessary areas when you set up a meal train for them through the website: This site is free to use and has been a trusted, standard go-to option for those organizing meal details. Plan to spend about 20-30 minutes setting up your account and the meal train details, making sure no area is missed.

After you have set it up and made sure all details are correct, you can send the custom link by email or text to the "approved list" so others can join and sign up for dates. Ensure the number of meal nights is proportional to the number of folks invited to provide meals. In essence, if the approved list is 10 people, make sure you are not asking those 10 people to cover a month's worth of meals. In general, the potential list of meal providers should be 2-3x the amount of the meal night schedule (example: if 5 nights of meals are needed, the list of providers should be around 10-15 people since not every invitee will be able to join).

It's a great idea if you are the first one to sign up and choose an early date to provide a meal! Leading by example is a great way to start the meal train.

Some tips to send to others when you email the link:

  1. Meals should be dropped off in disposable containers that do not need to be washed and returned to sender.

  2. As a best practice, under-salt and under-pepper homemade food items. Other spices are more forgiving but since everyone has a different salt and pepper preference, make a note in the meal delivery bag that the food has been intentionally under-salted/peppered so the person can salt and pepper to their liking.

  3. If you are not sure what to provide or if you are not confident In your cooking abilities, just send a gift card or offer to bring them their favorite dishes from a nearby restaurant.

We hope this helps you in your desire to show love to others in tangible ways!

If you have found this post helpful, feel free to share this blog in your church circles and beyond


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