Prepare a Meal or Donate Food

Meals From the Heart

Offering a home-cooked meal or a quick snack is one of the most important ways we can provide our guest families with the comfort of home, especially after a long day at the hospital. Thanks to our Meals from the Heart Program, nightly dinners, along with breakfast on the weekends, are prepared by community groups at each of our three Ronald McDonald Houses. We need your help to continue providing this source of comfort to those who call our Houses their home-away-from-home.

Two Ways to Participate

Prepare a meal or have one delivered to the Ronald McDonald House

Volunteers will have to pass a health screening process and agree to the volunteer guidelines. If you prefer not to cook in the House, you are welcome to have a meal delivered from a local restaurant. For delivery examples, please visit our Meal Delivery Example List here.

Individuals can reserve a date to prepare or deliver a meal using our online calendar. 

Donate food items

Are you looking for another way to give back? You can help keep our pantries full for guest families to cook their own meals.  Consider donating any of the following items to help feed RMHC guest families:

  1. Pantry/nonperishable items (canned fruits, jerky, soup, protein bars, grains, and canned veggies)
  2. Frozen entrées (Marie Calendar family size lasagnas, baked ziti, meatloaf, etc.)
  3. Prepared deli meals (chicken, salads, sandwiches, etc.)
  4. Kitchen basics (seasonings, single-serving disposable meal containers, etc.)

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I sign up?
  1. Start by reading the Meals from the Heart Program guidelines by clicking hereTo protect the health and safety of guest families, all volunteers are required to read these guidelines before participating.
  2. Next, find an available date on the calendar that works for your group. To view the calendar, click on the link below for the location of your choice.
    West County RMH Calendar
    Park Avenue RMH Calendar
    West Pine RMH Calendar
  3. Check the “sign up” box next to the date/meal you would like to book and fill out the requested information. (You may book one or more dates at the same time as long as they are at the same House.)
  4. You will receive an automatic email confirming your dates. Now it’s time to start planning your menu! Check our Recent Menus closer to your volunteer date to see what other groups have cooked. 
  5. You will receive a reminder email five days in advance before you prepare your meal. 
  6. If you have any questions, please reach out to a member of the Family Services Team.
What information do I need to check in?

Please bring a current driver's license, passport, or state ID. 

How many people can I have in my group?

During this limited volunteer period, groups can have a maximum of ten individuals. Children over the age of 12 can participate and are included in the group total. Children must be with an adult at all times. 

How do I get there?

For addresses and directions to any of our three locations, please visit our Contact page.

How many people should I prepare for?

Our Ronald McDonald House program is at total capacity. Family meals should serve approximately 25-30 individuals at the Park Avenue House and 40-45 individuals at the West Pine and West County locations. You are also welcome to call our Family Services Team for an update on the number of families to prepare for.

What should I prepare?

The menu is up to your group. We encourage family favorites and meals that will reheat well. Check out our list of recent menus from other volunteer groups.

Recent Menus

Can I still deliver a meal, instead of preparing it at the House?

Yes, you are encouraged to deliver a meal at any of the three House locations, but you are still welcome to visit to prepare a meal. 

Is this opportunity available at all three locations?

Yes, families are staying at all three of the St. Louis area Ronald McDonald Houses.

Why do I need to check in when I arrive?

Because the safety and security of our residents is a top priority, we have instituted a policy that requires everyone over the age of 18 to present a valid form of identification and check-in through a system that searches the National Sex Offender Registry. Upon check-in, you will receive a visitor badge. Please make sure that everyone in your group receives this notice. Without an ID, we will be unable to check you into the Ronald McDonald House. Thank you so much for helping us keep our families safe. 

What time are meals served?

Dinner is served buffet-style at 6:00 p.m. The recommended arrival time to prepare dinner is 4:30-5:00 p.m. Breakfast is served buffet-style at 9:00 a.m. The recommended arrival time to prepare Breakfast is 7:30-8:00 a.m. (Please do not arrive before 7:30 a.m.).

What is in the kitchen?

The kitchens are stocked with standard kitchen equipment, including a grill at each location. Each kitchen also has plates, bowls, silverware, and everything you should need for serving. Coffee, tea, and soda machines are available on-site. If you would like to bring other types of drinks, you can, but it is not required.

Do I need to stay and clean up?

Please plan to stay until approximately 7:00 p.m. to put food away and clean up the kitchen and dining room areas. It is important for meals to be packaged in individual containers for the safety of guest families. Please consider bringing individual disposable containers, similar to the ones linked here, with you. If you are unable to stay for cleanup, please advise the Manager on duty. 

Why are there not more families here at mealtime?

Not all families are here when meals are served as they may be at the hospital. Guest families also may not feel comfortable being in community spaces during high traffic times. They will enjoy the meal later when there are fewer individuals in the dining areas or once they return from the hospital.