Meals from the Heart

Families staying at Ronald McDonald Houses are often far from the comforts of home, including home-cooked meals. Through our Meals from the Heart program, generous volunteers provide meals for families at our Houses and Family Rooms, allowing families to dine and unwind without the stress of cooking or the expense of dining out.

How Does Meals from the Heart Work?

Whether you’re looking for a teambuilding activity for colleagues or a fun way to gather and give back with family and friends, volunteering with Meals from the Heart is a great way to give families peace of mind and a taste of home.

Meals from the Heart volunteers:

  • Must be at least 13 years old and require one adult for every three children. This is to ensure the safety of all volunteers, as well as the food safety of the meals being prepared for our families.
  • Work in groups of up to 20 volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House near Lurie Children’s, and up to 10 people at our four other Houses


We are currently scheduling Meals from the Heart volunteer groups through April 2020.  Applications for dates after April 30, 2020 will not be accepted at this time. To sign up, please review the House and meal options and click the Sign Up link below.


Meals from the Heart at Houses near Advocate, Loyola University Medical Center, Central DuPage Hospital and Comer Children’s Hospital

At these four Houses, groups of up to 10 volunteers handle the meal planning and preparation from start to finish. Volunteers create their menus, purchase all necessary ingredients and cook the meals in our fully-equipped kitchens.

PLEASE NOTE that all food must be made in the House kitchens. We are not able to serve par-baked or pre-made food.

 House  RMH near Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital  RMH near Advocate Children’s Hospital  RMH near Loyola University Medical Center  RMH near UChicago Comer Children’s Hospital
 Address  0N1250 Winfield Rd.
Winfield, IL 60190
 4410 W. 93rd St.
Oak Lawn, IL 60453
 1 Airmail Rd.
Hines, IL 60141
 5444 S. Drexel Ave.
Chicago, IL 60615
 Volunteer Group Size  5-10 volunteers  5-10 volunteers  5-10 volunteers  5-10 volunteers
 Lunch Shift  Serves 15
Daily 10:00am-1:30pm
 Serves 25
Daily 10am-1:30pm
 none  none
 Dinner Shift  Serves 20
Daily 4:00-7:30pm
 Serves 35
Daily 4:30-8:00pm
 Serves 25
Daily 4:00-7:30pm
 Serves 20
Daily 4:00-7:30pm
 Brunch Shift  Serves 15
Sat-Sun 9:00am-noon
 Serves 25
Sat-Sun 9:00am-noon
 Serves 15
Sat-Sun 9:00am- 12:30pm
 Serves 15
Sat-Sun 9:00am-noon
 Calendar  View the CDH calendar  View the Advocate calendar  View the Loyola calendar View the Comer calendar


Culinary Hearts at RMH near Lurie Children’s

At RMH near Lurie Children’s, groups of 6 to 20 volunteers provide financial donations to prepare meals alongside our House Chef. Our chef plans the menu, purchases the ingredients and provides volunteers with hands-on instruction to create a delicious, carefully crafted meal for families.

The donations from Culinary Hearts volunteers fund the purchase of ingredients and ensure our House is equipped to offer 14 diverse meals each week. Groups will be sent a link to donate via credit card once their volunteer date is confirmed.

  • A gift of $400 provides weekday lunch
  • A gift of $600 provides dinner
  • A gift of $400 provides weekend brunch

If your group is unable to volunteer on your reserved date, every effort will be made to reschedule your group for a future date. If you need to cancel your participation altogether, no refunds will be issued, but we will ensure your financial contribution supports Culinary Hearts to provide meals to our families.

 House  RMH near Lurie Children’s
 Address  211 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
 Volunteer Group Size  6-20 volunteers
 Lunch Shift  Serves 50
Sun- Fri 10:00am-2:00pm
 Dinner Shift  Serves 80
Daily 4:00-8:00pm
 Brunch Shift  Serves 50
Sat 9:00am – noon
 Calendar  View the Lurie calendar


Meals from the Heart at Family Rooms in Edward Hospital, Lurie Children’s Hospital and Comer Children’s Hospital

Small groups of volunteers help families staying in the hospital by purchasing and serving meals prepared by local restaurants in our Family Room kitchens.

 Family Room  Family Room in Comer Children’s Hospital  Family Room in Lurie Children’s Hospital  Family Room in Edward Hospital
 Address  5721 S. Maryland Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637
 255 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
801 S Washington St.
Naperville, IL 60540
 Volunteer Group Size  1-2 volunteers  2-4 volunteers  2-4 volunteers
 Lunch Shift  Serves 50
Mon-Fri noon meal drop-off
Mon-Fri 11:30am meal drop-off
 Dinner Shift  Serves 60
Mon-Fri 6:00pm meal drop-off
 Calendar  View the Lurie Family Room calendar  View the Edward Family Room calendar


Sign Up to Volunteer

Have you found the Meals from the Heart opportunity, date and location that are right for your group?

Sign Up to Volunteer!



Contact Brittany Wright, Director of Volunteer Services, at bwright@rmhccni.org.


Meals from the Heart FAQs

How old do volunteers have to be in order to participate?

All Meals from the Heart volunteers must be at least 13 years old, and groups with children (anyone between 13-17 years of age) must include one adult for every three kids. This is to ensure the safety of all volunteers, as well as the food safety of the meals being prepared for our families.

Do I need to bring my own dishes, serving utensils, plates, kitchen tools, etc.?
The Houses provide all dishes, glasses, silverware and kitchen equipment needed to prepare and serve your meal. If you have a question about a specific item, please contact the location where you are scheduled to volunteer.

My volunteer group has more than the maximum number of participants in the guidelines. Can we still volunteer together?
If your group exceeds the number of participants in the guidelines, we ask that you divide your group and provide two separate meals on different dates. For the best experience and safety of all participants, please do not bring along additional volunteers.

If you have a larger group interested in volunteering on the same day, contact bwright@rmhccni.org about cooking meals at multiple Ronald McDonald House locations.

What is the time commitment for each meal?
Please plan to volunteer with us for 3-4 hours. This includes time for food prep, serving, eating and cleanup. For specific details about arrival and serving times, please contact the location where you are volunteering.

Can I start meal preparation at my home?
All food preparation must be done at the House for food safety reasons. Any food or groceries brought with you must be unopened and unaltered from the time of purchase. Catered food is allowed as long as it was prepared in a commercial kitchen and transported directly from the restaurant to the House.

Someone in my volunteer group isn’t feeling well. Can they still participate?
Given the compromised immune systems of many kids in the Houses, all volunteers should be healthy and free of any flu-like symptoms, fever or exposure to any infectious disease. We ask that any group members feeling under the weather stay home if there is a chance they may be sick.

How is Culinary Hearts at RMH near Lurie Children’s different from Meals from the Heart at other Houses?
With Culinary Hearts, volunteers provide a financial donation so our House Chef can purchase all ingredients for that day’s menu – volunteers only need to bring their enthusiasm and excitement to get in the kitchen!