Body and Soul - Sharing of Meals

When you think about it, hospitality isn't all about fun and partying. It covers the whole range of life experiences and emotions, if you truly have a hospitable attitude.

And some of those life experiences and emotions come through challenging times: loss of a loved one, birth of a child, or a sickness or surgery, to name a few.

I didn’t realize that this attitude would have such a huge influence on others, beginning with the seed that was planted years ago after the birth of my children. Back in the early 90’s, the meals ministry through our church was comprised of volunteers who would arrange for meals to be brought to the home after the birth of a child, or another challenging event.

My family was truly blessed by this act of love, because after the birth of each child, and after I had a major surgery – the meals came a-rolling in. I, in turn, started a similar ministry through the church that we attended at the time, just a few years later.

But this idea of sharing meals does not have to happen solely through a church! I was reminded to write this post after this last week, when one of my close friends had surgery. It’s not just church friends that I look out for! If I hear of or see a need, I usually jump onboard.

Because guess what? It’s something I can do from my home, as I can be on the phone setting up the dates, while cooking dinner at the same time! I love multi-tasking :)

Here are some easy tips to make sharing of meals quite easy!

~ Determine who needs the meal, call and ask if they’d like to be a recipient, and then ask for some names of closest friends, neighbors, or family members. *
~Arrange for when the family would like the first meal, and for how long (I usually do 2 weeks for a surgery, and sometimes 3 weeks for a new birth).
~Inquire if there are any food allergies in the family, and what time of the day they would like the meal delivered.
~Make up a calendar for a 2-3 week period, and start making phone calls.
~Schedule meals for every other day. Every day is too much food.
~Don’t worry about asking what individuals will bring. It puts pressure on the cook to decide right then (and she may feel locked in), and it doesn’t really matter if the recipient gets 3 meals of chicken in a row. They usually are so thankful for whatever food is brought to them, and the every-other-day aspect helps with variety.
~Ask for the meal to be delivered by a certain time (I usually say 5:30) unless a previous time is arranged.
~Complete the full calendar for the time period, with full names and home/cell phone numbers.
~Email or mail the schedule to the recipient and let them know they should call if any changes need to be made.

Once the schedule has been mailed, I walk away from the job. As in, mission accomplished – the family is on their way to being blessed and there’s really nothing more I should have to do. I never “babysit” the schedule. I just let it flow and happen on its own. Yes, there are times when someone will forget, but that’s rare.

Who’d ever guess that we could bless other bodies and souls in such a simple, yet meaningful way? Especially through difficult times …

That is what I call having a hospitable spirit. Seeing a need, jumping in to help ease the pain of others.

If I hadn’t been the recipient of this beautiful act of love years ago, I would have never understood how nourishing it is – to the body and soul.

* A church meals ministry is usually ran by a church, and through a list of volunteers.

(Photos: A beautifully, fresh Thursday Night Dinner, brought to our family. Me making Chicken Pot Pie. My friend's dill bread that she bakes for everyone!)


~j~ said...

Hi Sandy,
as always nourishing in so many ways.
I am just ready to step back into the flow and want to bless my neighbor who is a single mom, with dinner. That chicken pot pie is what will be sent over. It looks delicious. Have a wonderful weekend.
love j

Pam said...

As someone who is in the midst of being a recipient of such meals while DP is in the hospital, I can say a hearty "Amen" to the idea that we don't care if there are duplicates.

The blessing of not having to think about fixing meals or making suggestions for those bringing meals is far better than having similar meals two nights in a row.

I am just so grateful people are giving -- that's huge right now.

Thanks for another wonderful post, dear Sandy.

GiBee said...

As you know, my whole family has been very, very sick. My inlaws have been over several days this week to care for Hunter bcs I have been too weak and out of it. They also moped my floors, vacuumed, straightened up toys, couch pillows, blankets, and washed dishes, cooked meals, and have been there for us showing us their version of in-home hospitality. What a blessing they have been.

Having said that, I'd concur with what you said, and take a moment to encourage your readers ... never underestimate the power of one simple home cooked or store bought meal delivered to someone's door step when they are ill. It truly takes the pressure off, and makes the family feel loved and cared for! Thanks for sharing this, Sandy!

Mrs. Darling said...

Ive been making dinners for my pregnant daughter who is nauseated and tired. Her husband is so happy! It really is true that it is better to give then to recieve.

Myrna said...

About 20 years ago I took some chicken soup to a gal from my bible study (I really didn't know her at the time---but the Spirit inspired me) who had pneumonia. She had a preschooler in the home and another school age son. Looking around her tiny house I could see what to do, I quickly washed up the sink full of dishes and gave the bathroom a once over. She recently reminded me of this---I had not remembered doing it at all---it was such a simple thing, but that's how our deep friendship began. She is godmother to my youngest and a bosom friend. We have held each other dear in prayer, laughter, tears and kept each other looking to the Lord. This is Life Abundant

Leigh Ann said...

I'll never forget how my playgroup and my neighborhood took care of us with meals after the birth of both my children. It was an amazing thing.

Cheers! LA

Mrs. B. said...

Getting meals after the birth of my children was such a blessing! In fact, I'm planning on bringing a meal to a family with a newborn next week. ;)
Great suggestions. Especially the every-other-day idea.
Thank You!

Jen said...

Our Sunday School class does this same thing. Although we do dinners for a baby for 2 weeks every other day and for a surgery or sick member in class we do one week for the man and sometimes 2 weeks for a women....also a death we take 1-2 meals.....we do know how to take care of our people though...

PJ said...

Thanks for dropping by. Yep! We had a great time at the AG store! Love the food and food pics here!! Great ideas.

Nadine said...

It is truly a blessing to be the recipient of this gesture. I've received and given. I find I get blessed either way.

You're right everyday is too much because are so generous you always have leftovers.

Kirstin said...

This is something we do in our church quite often and it is such a blessing. One time a few years back my sister had surgery. My MIL who lived within 10 minutes of her at the time had her church arrange meals for my sisters family (who do not go to church). They were thoroughly blessed by this act of kindness.

I have also taken meals to one of our neighbors "just because". To say that they were shocked would be an understatement. They just didn't know what to think. They both work, were great neighbors and I just wanted to bless them. Chicken pot pie, salad, rolls, and cookies. They were blessed.

And Sandy, we don't live in Costco (oops, typo...might as well live in costco)...anyways, Pasco is what I meant to write. We live in Woodland, Wa which is about 30 miles north of Portland, right off I-5.

Jill@Who Could Ask for Anything More said...

We were fairly new to our Sunday School, which has a meals ministry, when we had Adam 2 years ago and meals came to our door a few days over the course of two weeks (and right before Christmas!) What a blessing. So now, whenever I can, I take the opportunity to deliver a meal to a family with a new baby, a sick family member, etc. Great post.

Michelle@Life with Three said...

Hey, Sandy:
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I enjoyed looking through your blog and love the hospitality focus. This post, in particular, really struck a cord. We live in the south and I always thought it was such a special thing how people down here seem to reach out to each other in times of need with meals and encouragement. It's one of the things I love about living here.

keeper of the chocolates said...

oh sandy this is a post after my own heart...i just loved this post. i too was blessed immensely after each birth of my children by those who came calling with meals for us all.

and to this day, i am also the first in line when a meal is needed. it is now such a blessing to 'bless others' with this most precious ministry :)

hope you are having a beautiful weekend :)

heidi said...

Sandy- I LOVE your blog...i feel like you are a kindred spirit out there! We share mutual friends (steph and kelly)

Anyhow - the one thing I would add to your sharing meals list is to make sure to ask the cooks to take meals in containers that DO NOT have to be returned. When i have been the receiver of fabulous meals it's a little stressful to figure out how to get all the containers back without breaking or losing them. When i take meals - which seems to be often these days - i always include a note that says not to return anything . When i organize for my church i ask the cooks to please keep this in mind.

Love your blogs- inspiring and insightful!


Irritable Mother said...

I have been a meal recipient after three babies and major surgery as well. It is such a good thing!
The thing I do when taking meals for someone else is to prepare a double batch - one for them and one for my family. It makes it so much easier!

CandiceM said...

Loved this blog...after my little sister passed away the church brought us soooo much food. We didn't have to worry about food for a while. Wow, it's making me tear up just thinking about it. Where would we be without our church family?? I'm going to make your chicken pot pie for a man here who just recently lost his wife. Thanks for the reminder!!

Also, hope you don't mind if I link you to my blog!!

Kari & Kijsa said...

We received this blessing from our churches after the births of our children...this is truly priceless at such a time. We try to carry on this tradition now as well! Wonderful post!

kari & kijsa

Sandy said...

Heidi brings up a good point - it is much more helpful if you take the meal in ziplocs or plastic containers your don't need back!

If I have brought a meal in a glass dish, I just make sure that I retreive it right away. :)

Bev said...

I love how long you think meals need to be taken in, for different events. When a new baby comes home, more than one or two is needed to really help. And you're absolutely right, every day is too much - they end up with a fridge of leftovers that become a burden. As always, great, helpful post.

Tamara said...

Excellent post. I am, by nature, very shy, so entertaining does not come easily for me. Your blog has been giving me fresh insight!

Though I love to cook, I always stress out when I need to prepare a meal for someone in need. I have a very hard time thinking of something that will be family friendly, will not break my budget, and will not take me hours to prepare. Do you have some great suggestions? Your mango chicken sounds good.

momrn2 said...

I have been blessed to be on both the giving and receiving end. In fact, I was just yesterday offering a soon to be mommy of 4 meals when the time comes.

I often take something that can be frozen if need be. A few meals were brought to me that way and we had so much food we could not eat it all. The ones that could be frozen were... it made the meals stretch even longer.

Another inspiring post!!!

Kimberly said...

I have a form I use when I'm organizing meals for someone. On it I put the recipient's contact info and address, allergies, # of people to feed, and any other info. Then I copy it. I then just write the date they sign up for on the form and give it to the cook to keep.

I also have a blank calendar I print out. When someone signs up, I write their name and # or email on the blank. I then give a copy of the calendar to the recipient and keep one for myself. I then make calls/emails at the beginning of the week to remind folks to bring their stuff.

This works well as everyone has the info they need, the giver and receiver can contact one another if changes are needed and I am not constantly say/writing the same things over and over.

I DO make reminder calls simply based on my own experience. When Dumpling was born this fall, a bunch of ladies signed up to bring meal. Fully 50% never did, most never even called. We were left wondering too much if something was coming. It was dinner time and I was having to put something together anyway and now, it was at the last minute. Not fun. Sweetheart was so frustrated, he told me to call the rest of the ladies to cancel. I didn't, but I might as well have.

I know I probably sound ungrateful, I'm not. Something that could have been a blessing, was more of a hardship in many ways. It beats the fact that no one, except one meal from my mom, did anthing when our first son was born.

Sheila said...

I think of myself as a pretty good cook, but when it comes to bringing meals to others, I panic. I always feel like they have to be "casserole" type things, and I'm not always good at those, especially if they have to be frozen beforehand.

Bringing meals at the actual time they're going to eat them is much easier. Then I'm not so nervous! But last year I wrote up a list of all the recipes I can use when people need a meal, and then I don't worry quite so much.

Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

Kimberly said...

Dear Sandy,
I linked back to you and posted a copy of the form I've used to coordinate meals for people. Hope it may help someone serve!

Anonymous said...

I have started collecting plates and bowls from Target's markdowns and from Goodwill for delivering food to others. It's easier for me to package the food on a plate rather than a plastic bag, especially if it's cookies that may squash in a bag. Just a thought...