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Delivering meals to families in crisis

Posted on November 17 2015

Woman handing elderly man food

All of us have benefited from the kindness of family, friends and even strangers during difficult times in our lives. A good way to give back is to help others in the same circumstances, and one of the best ways to do that is to provide meals. Cooking and cleaning while dealing with a medical crisis or a recent loss can be overwhelming, and having that burden taken away can mean more than you might imagine. If you have a friend or community member who is going through a difficult time, these tips may help lessen his/her stress:

Set up a contact person

If someone is contending with a serious illness or with grief, it's likely he or she doesn't want to field questions about meal delivery and food preferences. Instead, figure out who should be the point person for the effort. If you have the time, this may be something you can do. Otherwise, help the person in question find someone who is able to coordinate food delivery. Our Pinterest account ( has many recipes available. Setting up a variety of meals will help to limit the monotony of the same dishes.

Keep circumstances in mind

If your friend or neighbor is private, it is probably not the best idea to broadcast these plans over social media. However, if he or she consents, see whether other neighbors, friends, church members and colleagues may be interested in helping out with cooking. You might be surprised by how many people want to pitch in.

Also be mindful of what kinds of food the family in crisis could really use. A family with small children may have different dietary needs than a couple or a single person. It's best to ask about preferences, allergies and dietary observances if you can, or have someone close to the family let you know. That way, the food that comes through will be tailored to the family's requirements and tastes.

Finally, you should ask how much freezer space the family has available. If there is a lot, you and other people interested in helping can cook, vacuum seal and freeze a huge variety of meals for the family to use as it needs them instead of on a set schedule. This can help a lot if the crisis the family is in involves unpredictable schedules, appetites and energy levels, as many do.

Don't forget the details

While frozen meals portioned in vacuum sealer bags are going to be very welcomed, there are other needs families have in terms of food too. Don't be afraid to send along packs of snacks or baskets of fruit. When people are ill or grieving, their appetites may not be very strong and they may prefer to eat small amounts of food at a time. If there are kids in the house, deliver a few foods you know they like and that are easy to prepare. This can help keep them feeling cared for even as their family endures a difficult time.

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