Volunteer Groups Provide Free Home-Cooked Meals for Shelters

Photograph of a large foil pan of lasagna.

In our recent article about how to get donations of food for your family and youth services program, we shared tips on working with grocers and restaurants. Then we learned that Janus Youth Programs in Portland, OR, also gets free meals for its youth from faith-based organizations and service groups, like the Lions Club.

“Our dollars just aren’t going to stretch day in and day out to cover meals,” says Advancement Director Rosalie Karp.

The volunteers, who mainly hear about Janus by word of mouth, prepare the home-cooked meals offsite and deliver them to Janus’s two shelters. Karps says the shelters serve two meals a day, breakfast and a late dinner.

Janus asks volunteers to put the food in large disposable plastic, paper or aluminum trays or containers, which work well for transporting food. Two to three large disposable aluminum trays of food feeds one shelter of 30 youth, and five to six trays feed 60 youth in both shelters.

Here’s what breakfast might look like:

  • Bagels
  • Fruit (canned or fresh)
  • Cereals

Dinner might feature:

  • Lasagna or other pasta
  • Meatloaf or roasted meats
  • Goulash, stroganoff
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Sloppy Joes
  • Nachos or tacos
  • Hearty soups or chili
  • Hot dogs
  • Sandwiches
  • Fruit (canned or fresh)
  • Vegetables (ready to serve)

Food variety tends to work itself out. When asked if Janus ever gets lasagnas donated three nights in a row, Karp says, “That’s never been a problem.”

View Janus’s online sign-up form for food donations.

9-5 pm Eastern