Guidelines for Providing Meals at Housing

The meals you provide for our families at the end of long hard days provide nourishment far beyond the physical. Here are guidelines to follow when providing meals for housing families:

  • You can expect approximately 130 people for meals. It varies greatly between 80 and 160. During the school year, roughly one-third of diners are children. In the summer, the percentage of children is a little higher.
  • Families are informed in advance of meal times and will begin to arrive promptly at the scheduled time. Please plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled meal time to prepare. You are welcome to arrive earlier to prepare food, if necessary.
  • The preferred time for evening meals is 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm.
  • Drinks, plates, cups, napkins, and cutlery must all be brought as part of providing a meal.
  • Chafing dishes are available for use, but you will have to thoroughly clean them after use.
  • Menu planning, delivery, food set up, serving and clean up are the sole responsibility of the group providing the meal. Housing staff will clean up spills, empty garbage and sweep. Table covers may be provided for speedy dining room clean up.
  • Food must be freshly prepared in a facility scoring 90 or above in their most recent Health Department inspection.
  • Food must be kept at temperature during transportation and after delivery, until served. We have a warming oven, chaffing dishes and limited refrigerator space available for your convenience.
  • Please do not bring food items containing nuts. We also ask that you avoid providing pizza, as this is one of the primary foods available to our families on a continual basis and they lose their interest in it.
  • Everyone preparing food, serving food or serving drinks must follow hand washing procedures and wear gloves. This includes people scooping ice, handing out desserts and assisting families with food.
  • To prevent and accommodate sensitivities to latex, please do not use latex gloves. Nitrile gloves will be provided at your request.
  • All food must be served cafeteria-style by volunteers or staff. Only sealed bags of chips/cookies, condiment packets or plated desserts may be self service.
  • Anyone leaving the food service areas for any reason is required to repeat hand washing procedures before returning to serve food.
  • Eating and drinking are not allowed in food preparation areas, as this is in violation of Tennessee Health Department Standards.
  • While serving, keep portions reasonable. You can encourage people to return for seconds. This helps ensure there is plenty for all.
  • You are welcome and encouraged to offer crafts or activities for the children during meal time. All crafts and activities must be approved in advance.
  • Once the line slows down to an occasional family, please feel free to rotate food service coverage and eat in the dining room. Depending on traffic, this usually occurs about 45 minutes into dinner service.
  • When dinner begins to wrap up, please begin cleanup procedures promptly.
  • For privacy reasons, volunteers are not allowed to exchange contact information with housing families or take pictures of housing families or patients.

Thank you so much for being here!

We rely on you to ensure that the meal is provided in accordance within our sometimes difficult guidelines, that the families are served, and that the kitchen and dining room are sparkling at the end of the night.