Family Meals from the Heart

Thank you for your interest in helping the families staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Mid-Michigan. Providing meals for our families is an integral part of making the House a home away from home for those staying here. We appreciate your understanding of and respect for the challenging circumstances our families face with their ill children.

As you prepare to lend your time and talents, please carefully review the following guidelines. Following these guidelines will ensure the best possible experiences for families and volunteers alike.


  • This program is meant for groups of no more than 4-5 volunteers.
  • With the exception of some condiments, volunteer groups will supply all of the food for the meal. See below for notes on condiments.
  • The number of families staying at the House varies. Volunteers can generally expect to serve between 10 and 20 people.
  • Volunteers can expect to spend between two and three hours at the House, plus any pre-preparation done beforehand
  • All volunteers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with safe food handling and preparation rules and regulations.
  • Children are welcome, provided your group remains accountable for their supervision.
  • If a member of your group is or has recently been ill, please refrain from attending. We understand this to be a disappointment, but we make this request for the safety of our families.


Please limit your group size to no more than 4-5 people, including children. This helps keep our House a restful haven for our families.

Please contact the House the day before or the morning of your scheduled food preparation to confirm the number of people staying in the House. This is also a great time to tell us your menu so we can add that information to our digital daily announcements. In addition, if you have a logo or photograph of your group we would love to include that as well.

Health & Safety

Food safety and handling rules and regulations require that all food is prepared in the onsite House kitchen or in a verifiable professional kitchen. This includes defrosting of meats, washing and/or chopping of vegetables, mixing of ingredients prior to arrival, etc.

Please remind all chefs to wash hands thoroughly before and while preparing food. Food service gloves should be used when handling ready-to-eat foods, i.e. preparing salad and slicing bread.

Participants and visitors should be healthy and free of any flu like symptoms, fever or exposure to infectious diseases. For more safety tips, visit

Serving Requirements & Hints

You should plan to have dinner ready between 5:30 and 6:00. Our volunteers will usually arrive around 4:30, but you are welcome to come as early as 4:00. If you need access to the kitchen prior to 4:30, please call the House to make arrangements.

Spaghetti, lasagna and tacos are the most commonly served dinners at the House. We ask you to consider serving up some variety to our families as you plan your group's meal contribution. We've provided some recipe ideas in this kit for inspiration!

Thank you for helping provide healthful and balanced meals! It may be helpful to know one 16-ounce bag of frozen vegetables or 2 to 3 cans of vegetables will typically suffice. Salad servings should range from about ¼ cup to ½ cup per person.

Please serve salad-related items like salad dressing, cheese, croutons, etc. on the side when possible. This helps to maximize the length of time salads stay appealing to families. You might consider serving salads in a salad bar style.

Pasta servings should range from ½ cup to ¾ cup per person. One pound of spaghetti will serve 10 to 12 people.

Quite often we have condiments! If your dinner includes things like salad dressing, sour cream, ketchup, etc., we will review your recipe in advance so we can let you know whether you need to bring condiments or not.

We also quite often have non-perishables! If you'd like to serve canned vegetables, boxed noodle, rice or potato side dishes, we will let you know if we already have your items in the pantry. House meals should be prepared and separated into single-serve containers provided by the House. Our families are very grateful for your kindness in the form of a home-cooked meal, but they are often at the hospital and are usually not at the House when the meal is served. You can plan to prepare the meal and place your delicious results in the storage containers provided. More on this below.

Meal Planning

Our families look forward to enjoying complete meals. Whether in the form of a meat, vegetable and side dish or casserole or hearty stew, we ask that you consider providing a well-rounded meal.

Please avoid serving especially exotic foods. Things like sushi, seafood or foods are very spicy should be avoided.

Once your date is confirmed you will send the House your recipe for review. We will send you a grocery planning list that will ingredients you will need to buy for your recipe and ingredients we already have at the House for your use. 

We'd like to be mindful of any food allergies or sensitivities.

You may provide beverages, but they are not required. 

Arrival at the House

For unloading, please drive to the front of the House. You will unload at the front door. The Manager on Duty will greet you and show you to the kitchen upon your arrival. If you require a cart for unloading purposes, please call ahead to request.

All guests must park in the lot south of the House. Please do not leave cars in the front drive after unloading.

Our library is available for you to store your coats and bags while you're preparing in the kitchen.

Before leaving for the night, please check out with the Manager on Duty.


The House has utensils, dishware and cookware for your use, including pots and pans. Please do not use metal in the non-stick pots and pans - we'd like them to stay as nice as possible for as long as possible!

We have a grill perfect for outdoor grilling when the weather is nice.

Storage & Clean Up

More often than not, families will not be present to eat upon dinner being completed. Their schedules depend completely on the hospital and the condition of their ill children.

Food should not be left out on the serving area. Instead, meals should be packaged into single-serving storage containers with lids. Please label the containers with "Community," the date and what is in the container. Labels and markers are in the drawer closest to the pantry. 

We ask that you leave the kitchen in the condition you found it. Please wipe down the cabinets and counters, hand wash, dry and put away pots and pans, start the dishwasher if it is full, take the trash out if it is full, rinse and recycle any recyclables and sweep the kitchen floor.

Special Notes

If you are unable to meet your commitment, please provide as much notice as possible so we can make arrangements for our families. Takeout or delivery is perfectly acceptable if you find yourself in a pinch. Our families like to dine on pizza, subs, Chinese occasionally, too!

Feel free to take photographs, refraining from including any of our families in your shot. If you would like to shoot video, please call the House to obtain permission.

Volunteers are asked to stay in the common areas of the House. Tours can be arranged with prior coordination.

We have a radio and CD player in the kitchen for your enjoyment. Please be mindful and respectful of the volume.

Our volunteers spend anywhere between $50 and $200 and beyond. Cost varies dependent on meal and group. Remember, some of the best meals are simple and cost-effective!

Thank you!

We thank you for your time and talents in providing a healthy, comforting, home-cooked meal for our families. We hope to see you again!

Contact Information

To volunteer for our Family Dinner Program, any House/meal specific inquiries, including confirmation on number of people to serve, please call the office at 517-485-9303. If you have pictures or a logo to share, please email those to