Most people are familiar with the amazing work done by Ronald McDonald House, which provides a home away from home for regional WA families when they have a sick child in hospital. But how many people have considered how all those families are fed, three meals a day, for months on end?
Recently relocated to its spacious new buildings in Nedlands, the House can have up to 47 families, or nearly 100 residents at any one time. As you can imagine, that is a lot of meals that need to be prepared.
Thrifty staff cook up a feast for the Ronald McDonald families, image supplied
The 'Home for Dinner' program invites groups from the community to come in and prepare a meal for the families staying at Ronald McDonald House. They can be corporate groups or co-workers, sports team members, families or friends or charitable groups. When I cooked in 2011, it was with my Mothers' Group.
Recently, it was a team of ten managers from Thrifty WA who cooked dinner for the 100 residents, cooking up a storm with sizzling beef, chilli lime and soy chicken, fried rice, potato gems, sizzling veg and hot dogs. To make the evening even more special for the kids staying at the House, they hired a magician and gave out colouring-in packs and lollipops.
Thrifty WA General Manager Andrew Kamphaug said the experience was very rewarding. "These families are currently experiencing a very tough time, so just knowing that we were helping to ease the pressure for them a little made it all worthwhile. The team at Thrifty all contributed in the kitchen making it a fun experience – there was great camaraderie between us" said Mr Kamphaug.
All teams who volunteer their services are also asked to pay a contribution fee of $500 for community groups and $770 (minimum) for corporate groups to help cover the costs of the food. You get to design your own menu (the website offers helpful suggestions) and you will be assisted on the night by a professional chef and the House will also purchase the food on your behalf.
Ronald McDonald House Perth
Teams are encouraged to theme their night by decorating the dining room or playing music, you can even dress up or provide entertainment such as face painters or craft.
Importantly, you will be encouraged to stay and eat with the families and get to know them better. You will also be invited to an exclusive tour of the fabulous home away from home.
If cooking dinner for 100 people is a bit too ambitious for your team, then you might consider one of the other options for helping:
'Lovin' From The Oven' asks groups to spend a morning in the kitchen baking treats for the families (your team provides the ingredients, recipes and bakers) and 'The Big Breakfast' which runs on weekends, involves cooking a fabulous breakfast for residents (groups provide full ingredients, recipes and manpower).
Participating in a program such as this has so many benefits – for the team and for the families at Ronald McDonald House - and it can also be lots of fun. The very first article I ever wrote for WeekendNotes, back in 2011 was about the Make A Meal program at Ronald McDonald House, so it is with a touch of nostalgia that I am able to share the new version of this program with another generation of readers.
Ronald McDonald House Partnerships Executive, Will Beresford says, "The Home for Dinner program is incredibly important to the families staying at Ronald McDonald House. When corporate volunteers, such as Thrifty come into the House to cook for the families, it is greatly appreciated. Corporate volunteers help us get the job done – making life just that bit easier for regional families in need" said Mr Beresford.
For more information about the 'Home for Dinner' program and other ways to help click here.