Why and How to Minister with Meals

I’ve written a number of times about bringing a home-cooked meals to people.

It’s a time-honored tradition, one my family and I benefited from richly following the birth of our second son in St. Andrews, Scotland. When there are new babies, or when there is illness or death, bringing a meal, far from being a mere symbolic gesture, does at least 2 things:

1. It lets the person/family off the hook from planning/shopping/preparing dinner.

2. It lets them know that they are not doing this “thing” (cancer, grieving, new parenthood) alone.

{These observations are from my friend Ellen’s post this week–she learned firsthand the power of meals when she had cancer and she and her family were fed for 8 weeks by friends, acquaintances, and a few people they’d never even met!

“And it suddenly made sense, this impulse to feed people who are going through something life-altering.”

Recently I became aware of a nifty website that aims to facilitate such sharing of meals. It’s called MealTrain.com, and it’s an easy way to organize meals for someone. It’s free, you can put the word out via email and/or Facebook, and it allows you to note the receiving family’s preferences and/or allergies as well as to indicate what you plan to bring (so that the new family doesn’t end up with lasagna–or whatever–4 nights in a row.)

And it’s free!

Meals are a great way to communicate love and care in a variety of circumstances–

  • when a new family moves into a community
  • when there is a death
  • when someone is ill, injured, or hospitalized
  • when someone has had a miscarriage, or during a difficult pregnancy
  • when there is a new baby
  • when someone’s spouse has been recently deployed

Maybe you can think of more reasons. Whatever the reasons, a meal given to someone is a means of grace made edible. I don’t want to go all preachy on you, so I’ll just say this: think of a time when you were so tired, or sad, or overwhelmed, or lonely, and cooking dinner was really the last thing you wanted to have to worry about. Imagine what it would’ve meant to have a friendly face show up with a meal made especially for you.

What have been your experiences of giving and receiving meals? Have you used MealTrain?

(Just to be clear–I’m writing about Meal Train because I like what they’re doing, not because I’m receiving anything for doing so!)

4 thoughts on “Why and How to Minister with Meals

  1. Thanks for linking to my post. I have used MealTrain (I think that’s the site my friend used to organize all the cancer food), and there are a number of other similar sites too. It definitely is nice to have a sign-up place to spread out the bounty and also list any allergies or other issues with what food to provide. We found that getting meals several nights in a row was too much, particularly as people usually provided plenty for leftovers. It worked best for us to get two or three meals a week. And we also really, really appreciated people who accommodated our typically picky children by always providing SOMETHING that a kid would likely eat, even if it was just bread and butter and carrot sticks or fruit salad. My two favorite meals were: 1) a pan of oven-fried boneless chicken, which we could cut up and call “nuggets” or put on sandwich rolls, and 2) a huge Greek salad, which I ate for lunch for a week solid.

  2. I love the idea of providing meals during the “big moments” of life. When the event is joyful, it’s a way to celebrate and to honor and to help. When the event is painful, it’s a way to serve as “the hands and feet of Christ” by preparing sustenance with love — and even a way to show you care without stumbling over all those words you wrote about last week that don’t help! I have been the recipient of such love and care (and yumminess), and those gifts last in my memory years later. It was like someone else bringing their reality (planning, shopping, cooking, delivering) into my reality (be it nursing and diapering or shock and grief) and making a real connection.

  3. Meals are such a wonderful way for community to rally around life events. We’ve been using takethemameal.com to welcome St. Andrews babes the past couple years – same idea as mealtrain, I do believe. With my younger two I’ve said many times that folks could show up with PB and J and I would be delighted – just having one less thing to plan is such a blessing. (But, of course they never do, always yummy homemade goodness, which makes it a celebration.)

Please Join the Conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s