I believe in supporting local communities and charities… it kind of goes along with the whole belief-in-karma thing. I believe that the act of sharing food is sharing a part of one’s life… it’s kind of become the philosophy of this blog.

When Phil (@baconhound) asked if we’d take part in the Ronald McDonald House “Home for Dinner” to cook a meal for upwards of 60 people, I didn’t have to think twice. Besides, we were hanging out with some great people to support a great cause – Phil (@baconhound) & Robyn (@joyfulfollies), Aditya (@BigAddie), Jerry (@ZoomJer), Chris (@shorelinegold) & Erin (@erinfaught), Eric (@ProsperityEng) & Angelica (@AngelicaMP), and Dong (@buntcake). I would recommend this experience to anyone who likes to cook for others, socializing in groups, and doing good deeds for others.

Cooking up a storm with some laughs

For those who aren’t familiar with Ronald McDonald House, here’s an exerpt from their Canadian website:

During this most difficult time, parents not only struggle to support their sick child; they have to care for their other children, keep their jobs, pay bills, and manage the responsibilities of everyday life. With so much to balance, they shouldn’t have to worry about anything else.

This is where: Ronald McDonald Houses come in to provide a home away from home for the families of seriously ill children who are staying at a nearby hospital. Our Houses offer families so much more than just a roof over their heads. They have qualified staff and dedicated volunteers who are committed to taking care of the day-to-day essentials of running a home, so families don’t have to worry about them. They have programs that offer everything from education to meditation. And they are filled with many different families who all share a common bond – love for their sick child.

There are over 270 Ronald McDonald houses across 20 countries. The Ronald McDonald House in Edmonton was expanded in 2007, to 30 rooms and 42,000 square feet. They offer families with ill children a room and use of their facilities for only $12/night! The house is always full and on average there are about 15 families on a waiting list to get a room.

Home for Dinner is a program where volunteers to come to the Ronald McDonald House to cook a meal for the families staying there. After long days of treatments or medical appointments, families are often exhausted and may not have the energy to cook a healthy meal. Although it’s called Home for DINNER, the program is not limited to dinners.

We aimed to cook enough food for 60 people. Phil coordinated a menu with our group, trying to keep the items easy-to-make and comfort foods. Our Home for Dinner menu was:

Fancy Schmancy Shepherd's Pie made by - Chris, Erin, Robyn, Phil

  • Coleslaw (made by Eric, Angelica, Jerry)
  • Shepherd’s Pie (Team Meet – Chris & Erin, Team Potato – Phil & Robyn)
  • Cookies – Chocolate Caramel & Chocolate Chocolate Chip (Addie & Me)

With local ground beef donated by the awesome folks at Acme Meats (@AcmeMeatMarket), we had faith the Shepherd’s Pie would be kick-ass but worried a bit about the equipment, appliances, space available at Ronald McDonald House which proved unnecessary as the facility has three spacious kitchens for families and volunteers to use. I mean, Chris even found cookie cutters to fancy-up the shepherd’s pie with potato clovers.

One of the most rewarding parts of the event was seeing the families enjoy the food – from seeing the empty containers that was filled with coleslaw, to the man who claimed it to be the best shepherd’s pie he ever had (thanks to TEAM PIE and ACME MEATS), to the little boy who broke his cookie in half in an attempt to suck the caramel out. I also got the chance to sit with a mom and her son for a few minutes and hear their story of being back and forth from their home in Saskatchewan to the hospital in Edmonton. It was evident the gratitude they felt for Ronald McDonald House.

After most of the families had eaten dinner, a volunteer at RMH took Robyn, Phil, Dong, and myself on a tour. We got to visit the Quilt Room where kids coming into the house gets to select a blanket to keep for the duration of their stay AND to bring home. We were wow’ed by the Magic Room where toys and games and other presents are stacked from floor to ceiling – surely magical for any child who enters.

Magic Room at Ronald McDonald House

Ronald McDonald House is doing phenomenal work to support families and kids going through tough times. The saddest part of the evening for me was walking by their house calendar for the month and only counting 10 meals organized by volunteers. Jen Panteluk is the Manager of Development at Ronald McDonald House for Northern Alberta. Her vision is that eventually all meals 365 days a year would be accounted for by the Home for Dinner program. With all the fun and fuzzies we got from the evening, we’ll definitely be going back again.

To get involved, contact Jen Panteluk at 780-439-5437 ext. 202 or jen@rmhnorthernalberta.org

Here are some photos from our evening (photos by Dong Kim). For the full album, please visit my Facebook page.

Also, please check out Phil’s account of the evening at Home for Dinner.

Watching Eric, Angelina, and Jerry make coleslaw

Phil straining potatoes

Filling for Shepherd's Pie

Ingredients for Chocolate Caramel Cookies

Fancy-Schmancy Shepherd's Pie

Addie making hundreds of cookies

Cookies coming out of the oven

"Testing" a Chocolate Caramel cookie

Families seemed to enjoy the food - especially the Shepherd's Pie

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17 Comments on “Home for Dinner – RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE”

  1. March 13, 2012 at 8:13 am #

    Must be a gratifying experience.

    Love how u captured the spirit of the event in ur pics!!

    • March 13, 2012 at 9:25 am #

      Thanks Pragati – can’t take credit for the photos. Dong took those but absolutely the experience at Ronald McDonald House was great and the crew I cooked with were (as always) fun and kind!! Wish more people knew about the Home for Dinner program.

  2. Argenplath
    March 13, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    That looks like a great experience! Now I am running a list in my head to see if anyone I know can make entrees so we can round up a group to maybe do the same.

    • March 13, 2012 at 10:59 am #

      Great experience and heartwarming to see how the act of cooking and sharing food can help families at such a difficult time. If you are short people, let me know – I’ll be doing this again.

      • Argenplath
        March 13, 2012 at 11:03 am #

        Sounds like a plan or vice versa – if you do it again and are short dessert or random do anything people, let me know!

  3. March 13, 2012 at 11:12 am #


  4. Kevin V
    March 13, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    Very cool Carm, thanks for sharing – brings back memories of our day at Alpha House. I’ll take the idea to work, be a great team building experience for the crew.

    • March 13, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

      Thanks Kev!! Glad to spread word of the program. I see that the Ronald McDonald Calgary house also does the “Home for Dinner” program. If you do go, would love to hear how it goes.

  5. March 16, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    YAY! I love hearing about others’ experiences at RMHNA! That house ~ affectionately coined ‘my house’ has provided me and my family with much joy, humility, love, and laughter. The community enfolded in its four walls is so amazing… and there is just something rich about cooking a tasty meal for somebody in their time of need. Thank you for posting this ~ I look very forward to reading more stories of your future service through the Home For Dinner program!! I am looking forward to being at the house this coming Tuesday with some of my Local4Local4Local peeps ~ a TACO BAR is on the horizon! Cheers to you and to your group of ‘givers’…

    • March 17, 2012 at 8:51 am #

      Thanks for checking out this post Kristi! I definitely agree with you – the community at RMH is amazing and it was very rewarding being to cook and share in a meal with such warm-hearted and grateful families. Can’t wait to get back. xo

  6. March 17, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    Thanks for being a part of it, Carmen. Robyn and I are really looking forward to doing this again with you and Dong.
    Great recap. You’re the best!

    • March 19, 2012 at 10:27 am #

      Thanks for organizing! I wouldn’t have known about the Home for Dinner program if you guys didn’t set it up.

  7. jamiam
    March 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    Thanks for posting this Carmen. I am inspired! I am definitely going to see if I can round up a crew to get involved. Or if you need help on a future trip, let me know.

    • March 20, 2012 at 8:50 am #

      Thanks for reading Jane! Maybe we should organize a group to go.


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