Cooks for Kids Volunteer Meal Program

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Cooks for Kids

Our meal program offers small groups a meaningful way to directly serve families dealing with a child’s health crisis.

Volunteer Cooks for Kids (CFK) shifts are available at:

  • RMH-Oak Street, near the University of Minnesota’s Stadium Village neighborhood
    Weekday lunch, weekend brunch and dinner 7 nights a week
  • The RMH inside Children’s Minnesota hospital in south Minneapolis
    Dinner 7 nights a week

How it works:

  • The RMH Meal team creates a menu that meets the needs of current families and procures the ingredients.
  • CFK groups of 2-4 people prepare the meal, serve families buffet style, and clean up afterwards.
  • Groups are asked to make a monetary or in-kind donation to cover the cost of ingredients and sustain the program.
  • Important note: Masking is required at RMH and in hospital spaces. In addition, volunteers must be vaccinated against COVID-19, and the annual flu during flu season (November-April).

Note: We understand that not every group is able to make a financial donation to the meal program, however we still welcome your support! Email Taylor to learn how you can serve families.

To get started:

  • Scroll down the page and select your preferred location: RMH-Oak Street or the RMH inside Children’s, Minneapolis.
  • Click the “Sign Up” button and follow the registration instructions.<.li>

    Questions? Call the Volunteer Hotline at 612-238-8100.

The meals prepared by volunteers nourished our souls in the way only food prepared with love can.

Mother of a child hospitalized at Children's Minnesota, Minneapolis

Safe Serving at the House that Love Built



Our Five Minnesota Locations

OPEN to volunteer groups
Ronald McDonald House
Oak Street, Mpls
Near the U of MN Campus
Ronald McDonald House on Oak Street kitchen

621 Oak St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414

612.805.3467
Parking and Arrival Instructions

OPEN to volunteer groups
Ronald McDonald House
Children's MN, Mpls
On the hospital's third floor
Ronald McDonald House in Children's MN Mpls kitchen

2525 Chicago Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55404

612.874.4800
Parking and Arrival Instructions

  • 2–4 volunteers
  • 500: Dinner and Weekend Brunch
  •  
Onsite group volunteerism paused
Ronald McDonald Family Room
Gillette, St. Paul
Inside Region's Hospital
Ronald McDonald Family Room in Gillette kitchen

640 Jackson St.
St. Paul, MN 55101

651.726.2820
Parking and Arrival Instructions

  • Onsite group volunteerism paused
  • Email Taylor
  • to support the meal program
 
Onsite group volunteerism paused
Ronald McDonald Family Room
Children's MN, St. Paul
Adjacent to United Hospital
Ronald McDonald Family Room in Children's MN St. Paul kitchen

345 North Smith Ave. |  River Tower 3rd floor St. Paul, MN 55101
651.220.5160
Parking and Arrival Instructions

  • Onsite group volunteerism paused
  • Email Taylor
  • to support the meal program
 
Onsite group volunteerism paused
Ronald McDonald House
Northland, Duluth
Near Essentia Health
Ronald McDonald House Northland kitchen

503 East 3rd Street
Duluth, MN 55805

218.576.0865
Parking and Arrival Instructions

  • Onsite group volunteerism paused
  • Email Taylor
  • to support the meal program
 

Guidelines and FAQ 

Guidelines for the Day

  • Please stay home if there is a chance you might be sick. All volunteers should be healthy and free of any flu-like symptoms, fever or exposure to any infectious disease. Families using RMHC-UM spaces have children with suppressed immune systems. Passing our wellness screening is an important component to your ability to volunteer.
  •  Volunteers in the kitchen should wear closed-toe shoes. No sandals or high heels. Long hair must also be pulled back – hair nets will be provided as needed or upon request. We will also provide gloves for all volunteers.
  • All volunteers must register beforehand. We ask that you do not bring additional volunteers to exceed our maximum group size listed on the event.
  • Meal group volunteers should always remain in the kitchen or dining room unless directed to by staff or accompanied by a tour guide.
  • Volunteers may not enter a family’s room.
  • Volunteers may not take responsibility for supervising, caring for, or being alone with any of the children at the House in the absence of a parent or guardian.
  • Feel free to take photos! Out of respect for their privacy, pictures of RMH families are not permitted without their written consent.
  • There is no smoking or tobacco use permitted on Ronald McDonald House property.

FAQs

In the past, we brought in our own food and prepared the meal. Why the change?
  • Like many aspects of everyday life, our meal program changed as the result of the pandemic. One thing that didn’t change, however, is the tangible impact Cooks for Kids meal groups and other meal program volunteers have on families dealing with a child’s health crisis.
  • Over that past 16 months we expanded our meal program to three daily meal offerings across all five locations. This program expansion includes an enhanced delivery model complete with commitment to ensure a diverse and nutritious offering.
  • By financially supporting our meal program, meal assistants and Cooks for Kids groups enable RMH to offer nutritious weekly menus that provide variety and balance. Meal program donations ensure we can meet the special dietary needs of pediatric outpatients, nursing moms, family members with food sensitivities and allergies and more.
  • In addition, our meal program gives volunteers the opportunity to focus on serving families, instead of the time-consuming tasks of meal planning, shopping, transporting, etc.
What are we going to make? What will our experience be like?
  • Each meal typically consists of a salad or vegetable, protein, side dish, beverage and dessert. Fresh/seasonal ingredients will be used whenever possible.
  • If you are a former RMH family and have a special meal request related to your child that you would like to serve, please contact Taylor Olson.
  • Recipes, cooking utensils and ingredients will be ready for your group when you arrive at the House. Group members will be assigned various tasks to prepare the meal.
  • The meal will be served buffet style, with volunteers directly serving families.
How many people can be in my group?
  • Dinner and brunch: Currently RMH-Oak Street and RMH-Children’s Minneapolis can accommodate groups of 2-4 people. All group members must register before their chosen date, and we ask that you do not exceed our approved group sizes. We will be unable to accommodate additional volunteers due to safety concerns.
  • CFK @ Lunch: Teams of two meal assistants work alongside RMH kitchen staff.
  • Please note: All meal volunteers must be at least 14 years old, and all individuals between 14-17 years old must be supervised by an adult volunteer.
  • Important: Youth volunteers will receive a Minor Waiver upon registration. Please print the waiver, have a guardian sign it, and bring it to RMH for your shift.
What is the time commitment?
Mealtimes may vary between each RMH location, but you can expect the serving time to be a one-hour window for each meal. For Dinners and Brunches, the entire shift will be 3.5-4 hours. For CFK @ Lunch, the commitment is 2 hours.
Will we be able to interact with families?
While the dining area will have many siblings and families enjoying the meal, please be aware that the majority of patients are inpatient or isolated in their rooms due to their treatment protocol. Please note: The Ronald McDonald House welcomes families from across the country and around the world, drawing guests from many different backgrounds. We welcome a variety of faiths and beliefs. Engaging in any type of religious solicitation is prohibited.
My group would really like to serve a meal, but we don’t have the budget to donate. How can we help?
We understand that not every group is able to make a financial donation to the meal program – we can still use your help! Email Tony to learn how you can serve RMH families.


Commitment Policy

Families consistently tell us that complimentary meals are the one thing they appreciate most about the Ronald McDonald House. To ensure we fulfill our promise of providing dinner every night and brunch on weekends, please review our Commitment Policy.

Meal groups that are unable to provide a committed meal with less than a 14-day notice will be asked to do one of the following:

  • Provide for a catered meal to be delivered to the site
  • Donate $200 or $500, to cover the cost of the meal
  • Immediately sign up for another meal


Parking and Arrival Instructions

Food drop-off and parking information for your location. Click on a location name to view information.

Ronald McDonald House–Oak Street

  • Parking is available in our two on-site lots: the administrative lot off Fulton Street SE via Kelsey Lane (alley) and the back lot on Ontario Street SE, which is a one-way street accessible via the East River Parkway.
  • If both RMH parking lots are full, meter parking may be available on Fulton Street; in addition, one hour parking available may be available on Ontario Street. The administrative parking lot often has openings after 5pm, so volunteers may be able to move their cars at that time.
  • Note: RMH-Oak Street is located adjacent to the University of Minnesota’s busy east bank campus, where parking can be a challenge, so we strongly encourage carpooling.
  • Arrival instructions: All house doors are locked, so upon arrival use the call box to identify yourself/your group. RMH staff will unlock the door and direct you to the Program Office to check in.
  • If you are dropping off food: Pull into the semi-circle driveway at 621 Oak St SE, temporarily park your car, and use the call box to announce your arrival. A staff member will give you a cart to transport food to the CFK kitchen. After unloading your food, proceed to one of two RMH parking lots or street parking to park your car.
  • If you arrive after 5pm: The administrative office closes at 5pm so you will not be able to enter the building via that door. Please enter the building via the Ontario parking lot door or the main front door located at 621 Oak Street SE.

Ronald McDonald House inside Children's Minnesota, Minneapolis

  • If you are dropping off food: Pull into the front roundabout of Children’s Hospital (2525 Chicago Avenue South), temporarily park your vehicle, enter the hospital and stop at the Welcome Desk to get a Visitor’s badge (note: you will need a valid ID) and the RMH cart found adjacent to the Welcome Desk. Load your food on to the cart and have someone in your group bring it to RMH on the 3rd floor of the hospital while you park your car. After parking, proceed to RMH on the 3rd floor. Parking is available in both ramps attached to the hospital (Blue/Green ramps).
  • If you are not dropping off food but are part of the meal group: Park your car and proceed to the 2nd floor Welcome Desk to get a Visitor’s badge (note: you will need a valid ID). Take the elevator to the 3rd floor where the Ronald McDonald House is located. If you have not pre-registered, you will be asked to register in our volunteer database system upon arrival at RMH. This process takes about five minutes.
  • Parking vouchers will be provided to all volunteers.

Ronald McDonald Family Room inside Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, St. Paul

  • Drive to the Regions Hospital/Gillette West Parking Ramp at 640 Jackson St., St. Paul 55101.
  • Proceed to Level D (the Gillette Entrance) and temporarily park your car(s) in the Valet Parking area.
  • Enter the hospital, proceed to the right and follow signs to the Ronald McDonald Family Room to retrieve a cart to transport your food.
  • Park your car in a permanent space after delivering your food to our facility.
  • Parking vouchers will be provided to all volunteers.

Ronald McDonald Family Room–Children's Minnesota, St. Paul

  • If you are dropping off food: Pull into the roundabout at the Mother Baby Center (345 N. Smith Ave). You may leave your car there for 10-15 minutes. Sign in at the Welcome Center (note: you will need a valid ID). Unload your food on the provided cart and proceed to the 3rd floor of the River Tower, where the Ronald McDonald Family Room is located. Return to your car and park in the Red ramp.
  • If you are not dropping off food but are part of the meal group: Park your car in the Red ramp just off the roundabout at the Mother Baby Center. Take the Red Ramp elevators to the 2nd floor. Turn right outside of the elevator and proceed to the Welcome Center where you’ll sign in (valid ID required). Tell staff you are here for the Ronald McDonald Family Room and they will direct you to the River Tower elevators. Proceed to the 3rd floor and turn left upon exiting the elevator.
  • Parking vouchers will be provided to all volunteers.

Ronald McDonald House Northland, Duluth

  • Food Drop-Off: The day of your meal, please call 218.461.8999 and let the House Manager know your expected time of arrival, as well as any special requests (preheat ovens, etc). If you need assistance, or a cart, please call 218.461.8999 to have a staff member or volunteer assist you.
  • Parking: You may park in the RMH-owned lot off the alley. Once you are parked, then you may call the house to request a cart or assistance. You will not need any parking voucher or validation.