Soon after my second baby was born, I was informed that I’d be receiving a week of meals delivered by my friends. The next seven nights our doorbell rang and there stood someone dear to me holding warm dishes filled with delights.
A break from planning and making dinner was a blessed relief. It also exposed my family to a wider array of foods. More importantly, each night we sat down to eat a relaxed dinner lovingly made for us.
We were given so much food that we tucked lots of it in the freezer, spreading the bounty of kindness into the following weeks. One friend came laden with two different kinds of lasagna, one with garlicky white sauce and spinach, another layered with black beans and lots of veggies. Years later I still make both of her recipes.
A week of meals for families with new babies became a tradition in my circle of friends and my Le Leche League chapter. Here’s what worked for us.
1. Someone particularly close to the new mom and her family usually broached the idea to their mutual friends. We never designated a person in charge of planning. But your group of friends, or church, or neighborhood may decide that putting one person in charge of noting who will make a meal which night makes it easier.
2. We contacted the new mom with some basic questions such as best days and times to drop off food, food preferences, and if she wanted food brought ready to eat at dinner time or in advance to heat up later that day. Some moms preferred to have meal deliveries every other day.
3. Then we verified the plans with all potential participants. It worked best to accommodate a variety of needs among people contributing meals. Some preferred to drop off bags of Mid-Eastern salads or trays of sushi they picked up on the way home from work. Some didn’t have time to deliver a meal during the week but happily provided brunch on the weekend. It helped to jot down what people were planning to make so the family didn’t end up with three enchilada entrees on three consecutive nights.
4. We sent out a full schedule to everyone participating. It functioned as a reminder, listed who was bringing what, and offered suggestions such as labeling pans and including recipes. A shared Google doc can uncomplicate things. Or use one of these online meal scheduling sites to make this easier:
Of course, a new baby isn’t the only reason to provide a series of meals. It’s a great way to welcome someone home when they return from service project or military assignment. It’s a godsend when people are dealing with illness or injury. And it’s remarkably helpful during the time a family is undergoing a major home renovation. Mix it up. Rather than arranging a week of steady meals, you might offer a meal every Wednesday or set up a regular potluck date to eat together.
There may be no more basic gesture of kindness than feeding people. Food sharing is a tradition found in every culture, stretching back to our earliest history. It’s a stomach-filling, community-building kindness like no other. It can also swing back around remarkably. By the time my fourth child was born I was gifted with a full three weeks of meals, nearly all made by people I’d once cooked for. It was an embarrassment of riches but oh how those delicious foods warmed our hearts.
Other ways to build community:
Bring Kids Back to the Commons
We Don’t Need No Age Segregation
Welcome Kids Into the Workplace More Than Once a Year
Better Together: Restoring the American Community
The Abundant Community: Awakening the Power of Families and Neighborhoods
This is a repost from our farm site.
4 thoughts on “Gifting a Week of Meals”
This is what we do, have been doing for so many years at Chabad. Our little Jewish community ocnsiders this gifting the glue of our neighborhood. Also, in times of death! I am so happy to know that you are explaining this for otherrs. New mothers need lots of help the first weeks.
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Wonderful to hear you do this at Chabad. I’d love to hear more about this if you have time. I working on a bigger project about building community. Can you contact me? Just click on the tab at the top that says “contact.”
Laura, I love the shared, communal aspect of this. My mother and sister did this for me off and on when I had my children and I felt so special. We tend to think of comforting people with food only in times of loss, but it really is a potential gift in so many situations. Even just getting together and cooking/sharing different flavors and new recipes on a regular basis is comforting. Thanks for the post!
Our amazing community of friends has been doing this for decades, literally. Births, deaths, illnesses, or just in times when the love and support of the community is called for. We also have organized fundraisers and healing circles for each other. That’s what “community” is for.
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