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Family Dinners are needed nightly at each of our two Ronald McDonald Houses

  • House near Cox South – dinners fulfilled indicated in Red
  • House at Mercy Kids – dinners fulfilled indicated in Yellow

Meals from the Heart: A Warm Meal and a Helping Hand

When a child is admitted to the hospital, it can be a very stressful time for the entire family. Parents and other family members often have to spend long hours at the hospital, away from their jobs and other responsibilities. This can make it difficult to find time to prepare healthy meals.

Our Meals from the Heart program provides families with a warm, home-cooked meal every day of the week. These meals are made with love and care by volunteers from our community. They provide families with the nourishment they need to stay strong during a difficult time.

In addition to providing a meal, our volunteers also offer emotional support to families. They sit with them, talk to them, and listen to their concerns. They offer a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear.

Meals from the Heart is more than just a meal program. It’s a way to show families that they are not alone. It’s a way to let them know that we care about them and their children. It’s also the perfect setting for our families to get to know each other and share common experiences and support.

If you would like to help support our Meals from the Heart program, there are many ways you can get involved. You can:

  • Volunteer to prepare and serve a meal: Your family, group, or organization can volunteer to provide ingredients, prepare and serve a meal in one of our House kitchens. This is a great way to give back to your community and show families that they are not alone.
  • Donate a catered meal: You can donate a catered meal or food prepared in a commercial kitchen to be served at our Ronald McDonald Houses. Meals can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  • Make a monetary donation: Your monetary donation will help us purchase ingredients and cover the cost of food preparation.
  • Donate ingredients: You can donate ingredients to be used in our meals. We are always in need of staples such as pasta, rice, beans, vegetables, and fruits.

No matter how you choose to support our Meals from the Heart program, you will be making a difference in the lives of families who are going through a difficult time.

Thank you for your support!

If you are interested in scheduling a Meals from the Heart donation or volunteer opportunity at one of our two Springfield Ronald McDonald House locations, or if you have any questions, please contact:

Megan Mashburn at 417.820.0764 or megan.mashburn@rmhcozarks.org.

  1. Please limit the size of your group to no more than 6 people. This will ensure a favorable experience for your organization as well as the Ronald McDonald House families. If there are several people from your business or church that are interested, break them up into small groups to serve on different dates.
  2. All children/teens must be accompanied by adult sponsors – at least one adult per five children.
  3. Please remind your participants that they should not come if they have a fever, are not feeling well or think they may have been exposed to a communicable disease. (example: COVID-19 or chicken pox) Any exposure could be very harmful to immunosuppressed children.
  4. Food can be prepared outside the Ronald McDonald House in a commercial kitchen and brought in or you can prepare the entire meal at the Ronald McDonald House. Food may also be purchased already cooked and other items added to it to make a meal, such as fried chicken, pizza, etc. Please no spaghetti dinners – this is something that can be fixed quickly by the families and is eaten very often. We have plenty of items in our pantry if you would like to use them for your meal.
  5. When scheduling a dinner, it is best to plan to begin serving sometime between 6:15 PM and 6:30 PM. Some groups prefer to set the tables and serve the families while others set the food out buffet-style and allow them to walk through.
  6. Please realize that hospital schedules and patient treatment times vary. We never know an exact number of people that will be eating and can only give you an estimate (approximately 15 to 25 people). It is helpful to call and confirm this estimate count a few days ahead.
  7. Our kitchen is well stocked with dishes, glasses, pots & pans, and utensils. We also have a gas grill on our back deck at the House near Cox South if grilling is something your group may enjoy.
  8. You are also responsible for clean-up. If you would like to prepare a meal, but do not have the manpower to help serve and clean up, please let us know and we may be able to coordinate efforts with one of our Family Care Managers.
  1. Before any food preparation begins, each group member is required to wash their hands and forearms for at least 20 seconds with warm soapy water. Wash your hands frequently, especially between handling raw food and ready-to-eat food to prevent cross-contamination.
  2. Gloves must be worn at all times when handling ready-to-eat food. This includes, but is not limited to bread, chips, cookies, vegetables, etc. Gloves are provided in the kitchen.
  3. Aprons are provided for your use while at the House. We encourage you to wear these at all times when preparing and serving the meal.
  4. Hair nets are also provided at the House. If you have longer hair, we ask that you pull it back in a pony tail before you begin the meal preparations.
  5. When cooking meats, please ensure the proper temperature is reached for food safety. We have two meat thermometers available in the kitchen. Most meats need to reach at least 160 degrees F before consumption.
  6. Items that are packaged in abundance, such as potato chips, should be placed in bowls and served with a gloved hand or tongs should be available with the item for proper disbursement.
  7. Any cloths that are used should be used for one purpose and then immediately put in the dirty cloths receptacle for washing. Food spills should be cleaned up immediately and the cloth should be rinsed in the sink before being put in the receptacle.
  8. All leftovers need to be properly stored in appropriate containers. Please use containers with lids or zip lock bags to store food in the refrigerator or freezer. Any item that can be individually wrapped will need to be wrapped as soon as the meal is over. We have foil and clear wrap in the cabinets for this purpose.
  9. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before using the ice machine and scoop. Place the scoop back in the appropriate holder when finished.
  10. All dinnerware needs to be placed in the dishwashers so they can be properly cleaned and sanitized.

If you would like to schedule a dinner or if you have any questions, please contact:

Cox House: Danielle Harp, danielle.harp@rmhcozarks.org, 417-875-3501

Mercy House: Justin Wilson, justin.wilson@rmhcozarks.org, 417-820-0764

Overview

Currently, our biggest need is the support of the Family Dinner Programs at our Ronald McDonald House near Cox South Hospital and our House at Mercy Kids. You can support our families by preparing a meal in one of our House kitchens, making a monetary donation to purchase a meal, donating ingredients for us to prepare dinner or have a catered meal delivered for our families.

Many of the parents and other family members at the Ronald McDonald House don’t have the time to prepare adequate meals because it’s extra time they will be away from their sick child or infant. Our “Family Dinner Program” allows families to relax and enjoy an evening meal at the Ronald McDonald Houses every night of the week, thanks to the generosity of many groups, businesses and individuals. They can have a casual feel or the format of a sit-down dinner. It’s all up to the person or group involved in planning and preparing the meal.

Would you be interested in adopting a Family Dinner Night at the Ronald McDonald House? It’s easy!

You or your group will provide the groceries and the food can be prepared at the Ronald McDonald Houses. You can also arrange to bring food prepared in a commercial kitchen or cater a meal to be brought in. You can eat with the families and offer not only a warm meal, but also the fellowship of kind words and support to these guardians. You can schedule to serve a one-time meal, or you can set up a recurring schedule to serve once a week, month or quarter. If you or a group would like to serve but aren’t available for the evening meal, we invite you to prepare breakfast or lunch for our families. Please give us a week’s notice when scheduling so we can notify our families and let them know that a special breakfast or lunch will be available.

Thank you for taking time to contribute to our Family Dinner Program. We appreciate all that you do for the families and children.

If you would like to schedule a dinner or if you have any questions, please contact:

Justin Wilson at the House inside Mercy Kids at 417.820.0764 or justin.wilson@rmhcozarks.org

Food Prep Guidelines

  1. Before any food preparation begins, each group member is required to wash his or her hands and forearms for at least 20 seconds with warm soapy water. Wash your hands frequently, especially between handling raw food and ready-to-eat food to prevent cross-contamination.
  2. Gloves must be worn at all times when handling ready-to-eat food. This includes, but is not limited to bread, chips, cookies, vegetables, etc. Gloves are provided in the kitchen. If you are preparing the meal at home, you may stop by the Ronald McDonald House prior to your scheduled date to pick up gloves.
  3. Aprons are provided for your use while at the House. We encourage you to wear these at all times when preparing and serving the meal.
  4. Ball caps and hair nets are also provided at the House. If you have longer hair, we ask that you pull it back in a pony tail before you begin the meal preparations.
  5. When cooking meats, please ensure the proper temperature is reached for food safety. We have two meat thermometers available in the kitchen. Most meats need to reach at least 160o F before consumption.
  6. Items that are packaged in abundance, such as potato chips, should be placed in bowls and served with a gloved hand or tongs should be available with the item for proper disbursement.
  7. Any cloths that are used should be used for one purpose and then immediately put in the dirty cloths receptacle for washing. Food spills should be cleaned up immediately and the cloth should be rinsed in the sink before being put in the receptacle.
  8. All leftovers need to be properly stored in appropriate containers. Please use containers with lids or zip lock bags to store food in the refrigerator or freezer. Any item that can be individually wrapped will need to be wrapped as soon as the meal is over. We have foil and clear wrap in the cabinets for this purpose.
  9. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before using the ice machine and scoop. Place the scoop back in the appropriate holder when finished.
  10. All dinnerware needs to be placed in the dishwashers so they can be properly cleaned and sanitized.

Dinner Guidelines

  1. Please limit the size of your group to no more than 6 people. This will ensure a favorable experience for your organization as well as the Ronald McDonald House families. If there are several people from your business or church that are interested, break them up into small groups to serve on different dates.
  2. All children/teens must be accompanied by adult sponsors – at least one adult per five children.
  3. Please remind your participants that they should not come if they have a fever, are not feeling well or think they may have been exposed to a communicable disease. (example: COVID-19 or chicken pox) Any exposure could be very harmful to immunosuppressed children.
  4. Food can be prepared outside the Ronald McDonald House in a commercial kitchen and brought in or you can prepare the entire meal at the Ronald McDonald House. Food may also be purchased already cooked and other items added to it to make a meal, such as fried chicken, pizza, etc. Please no spaghetti dinners – this is something that can be fixed quickly by the families and is eaten very often. We have plenty of items in our pantry if you would like to use them for your meal.
  5. When scheduling a dinner, it is best to plan to begin serving sometime between 6:15 PM and 6:30 PM. Some groups prefer to set the tables and serve the families while others set the food out buffet-style and allow them to walk through.
  6. Please realize that hospital schedules and patient treatment times vary. We never know an exact number of people that will be eating and can only give you an estimate (approximately 15 to 25 people). It is helpful to call and confirm this estimate count a few days ahead.
  7. Our kitchen is well stocked with dishes, glasses, pots & pans, and utensils. We also have a gas grill on our back deck at the House near Cox South if grilling is something your group may enjoy.
  8. You are also responsible for clean-up. If you would like to prepare a meal, but do not have the manpower to help serve and clean up, please let us know and we may be able to coordinate efforts with one of our Family Care Managers.

Dinner Calendar

Family Dinners are needed nightly at each of our two Ronald McDonald Houses

  • House near Cox South – dinners fulfilled indicated in Red
  • House at Mercy Kids – dinners fulfilled indicated in Yellow