General Support
How to Organize a No-Contact Meal Train

When someone is going through a difficult or stressful time in their life, it can be hard to know what the best way is to provide support. Everyone’s needs are different when they’re experiencing a crisis or new life event. During those times, making sure they have their basic needs met  — food being one of them — is step one. After all, even when life gets tough, we all still need to eat. A meal train is a great way to ensure that people have fresh food delivered to them every night for a certain period of time (a few weeks, a few months, etc.). When a recipient cannot have contact with others, there are a few additional steps to take if you’re helping to organize their meal train.

What Is a Meal Train?

A meal train (sometimes referred to as a food train) is an organized meal delivery centered around a specific event in a person (or family’s) life. People sign up to be part of the meal train, then one person delivers a meal to the recipient on their designated day.

Why No Contact?

There are plenty of reasons why someone might need a no-contact meal train.

Someone might be dealing with a cancer diagnosis or another disease that makes them immunocompromised (as well as infectious diseases that they don’t want to spread). Or perhaps they’re coping with the loss of a family member and aren’t ready to see or speak to anyone yet.

Currently with the coronavirus, recipients might not feel comfortable opening their doors and taking food from someone for fear of potentially catching the virus (or spreading it if they happen to be sick and quarantining themselves).

How to Create a No-Contact Meal Train

Now, let’s dive into the basics of setting up a meal train:

  • Start by building the food train recipient’s Give InKind page
  • Add the dates on which food would be helpful (choose between breakfast, lunch, or dinner for as many dates and times they need. You can even add groceries as an option) to your page’s Care Calendar for people to claim
  • Add the recipient’s food preferences, as well as any allergies or intolerances they or their family members might have to the Special Notes section of your page
  • Share your page with friends and family
  • Supporters claim a specific date and time

Ways to Avoid Contact

Here are some of the most effective examples for your recipient to receive their no-contact food train:

Leave a Cooler on the Porch

Ask if the recipient has a cooler that they can leave on their porch or provide one for them. When supporters arrive to drop off meals or groceries, they can simply put the food in the cooler and then call or send a text message to the recipient letting them know that their food has arrived.

Order Takeout from a Restaurant

Especially in the wake of the Coronavirus, it is understandable that some people may be wary of food that was prepared in someone else’s kitchen. To assuage these fears, consider ordering takeout from a restaurant and then delivering it to the recipient’s doorstep or provided cooler.

Arrange for Professional Food Delivery

Instead of picking up food and dropping it off to the recipient, you can also arrange for a delivery service to drop off their meal. You can either order food from a restaurant that already offers a delivery service, or you can order through a third-party delivery service like Grubhub or DoorDash.

Purchase Gift Cards

Finally, you can also purchase gift cards for restaurants that offer delivery or for delivery services like Grubhub, DoorDash, or Uber Eats.

This approach might seem a little informal to some, but we are here to tell you it’s not! According to the New York Times, “Gift cards are the new sympathy cards." This allows people to show their support and the recipient to order exactly what they want– win, win.

Put Together a Meal Train Today

A no-contact meal train is simple to put together for a loved one who isn’t able or up to seeing people. Follow the tips discussed above and you won’t have any trouble organizing a food train and making sure they get regular meals delivered right to their door.

If you or someone you know is in need of a no-contact meal train, get started by creating a Give InKind page today. 


Give InKind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We have an affiliate relationship with many of the advertisers on our site, and may receive a commission from any products purchased from links in this article. See Terms & Conditions.

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