Help Feed Our Families
For Ronald McDonald House Houston families, eating consistent, nutritious meals during their hospital stay can be a huge challenge. In addition to caring for their seriously ill child, families are often confronted with secondary, unexpected costs, including the burden of accessing/purchasing food. We estimate the average cost of a single adult meal in the Texas Medical Center is approximately $12.00. For a week’s worth of meals, that amount could quickly add up to $250. Currently, the average length of stay for our families is between 3-6 months. Additionally, the Texas Medical Center Area has limited grocery store access, and parents have limited storage capabilities at the hospitals to store more economically priced food options.
In addition to the financial burden onthe caretaker, the thought of leaving their child’s bedside to grab a bite to eat can be terrifying. caregivers often end up buying snacks at a vending machine or skipping a meal entirely. JoyFULL Eats is RMHH’s solution to help alleviate hunger while families are supporting their seriously ill child. Our meal program aims to provide healthy and convenient food options for the children and families at our four RMH Houston locations. Through JoyFULL Eats, RMHH helps mitigate the challenges caregivers face when trying to find quick and healthy food options while their child is receiving care. Volunteers can sponsor or cook a meal for our families, host a food drive to fill our pantry, or purchase H-E-B gift cards to provide quick and easy Meal Simple meals to our families.
Fill Our Pantry
Items We Need Most (microwavable, single-serve items preferred):
- Granola bars
- Crackers & pretzels
- Fruit snacks
- Tuna & chicken lunch kits
- Ramen & Easy Mac
- Hot chocolate
- Assorted chips
- Chef Boyardee meals
*For health and safety purposes, only unexpired donations will be accepted. Please check expiration dates before making a pantry donation.
Host a snack drive for Ronald McDonald House Houston families and help stock our pantry shelves.
Community groups, corporations, congregations, scout troops, or school clubs can join together to share the love with RMHH families. Individually packaged snacks make a huge impact on a parent’s day. Snacks are conveniently distributed and restocked multiple times daily throughout all four RMHH locations so that everyone can enjoy a quick pick-me-up.
Sponsor or Cook a Meal
Provide a hot, nutritious meal—lunch, dinner, weekend breakfast, or Sunday brunch for our families at any of the four RMHH locations. Your donation to the JoyFULL Eats program could provide a warm meal for as many as 165 individuals at one time. Imagine, after a long day of doctor’s appointments and procedures, how it would feel to enjoy a delicious, complimentary ready-to-eat, in some cases even freshly cooked meal. We have weekly, monthly, quarterly, and special occasion meal opportunities available.
Don’t feel like cooking at RMHH? Order catering through a licensed restaurant, caterer, or grocery store. You can also provide a financial donation, and our Food Operations team will plan the menu, place the order, and schedule the delivery to the intended location. For small, vaccinated volunteer groups, opportunities to serve on-site or cook/grill when possible, are available at Holcombe House. Hospital meals are catering only and individual packing is required per hospital policy.
However you choose to help, your efforts feed our families and give them strength. Your generous support provides families with an essential and greatly appreciated meal and helps reduce the stress of a long, tedious day.
*For health and safety reasons, homecooked meals cannot be accepted.
Sponsor a Meal at RMH Houston
(MD Anderson Cancer Hospital)
(Childrens Memorial Hermann Hospital)
(Texas Children's Hospital)
Number of Servings
75-90 Family Members
45 Family Members
25 Family Members
25 Family Members
In-person or catering
Approximate Catering Cost
$700-$1,250 or price of ingredients
Meal Simple by H-E-B
Nutritious meals can be hard to come by in our hospital locations, especially on the weekends. Convenience foods, while filling for the moment, do not always provide many nutrients. H-E-B Meal Simple meals help us fill the gap.
These healthy, fresh, single-serve meals can be easily heated in the hospital’s Family Room or Holcombe House microwave. Whether it’s tomato soup, chicken and veggies, or a slice of quiche, hungry caregivers can easily heat and eat a delicious meal and quickly return to their child.
All H-E-B Meal Simple meals are complimentary for our families.
Help us feed our families by sending an H-E-B gift card to purchase H-E-B Meal Simple meals. The easiest and most convenient way is to send an e-gift card today. To ensure timely delivery, please direct e-gift cards to our Food Operations Manager, Bettina Leuschen, at JoyFullEats@rmhhouston.org.
Is there an age limit to volunteer for JoyFULL Eats?
To ensure the safety of all volunteers, as well as the food safety of the meals being prepared for our families, all JoyFULL Eats volunteers must be at least 18 years old and have a valid Government-issued photo ID to participate.
My volunteer group has more than the maximum number of participants in the guidelines. Can we volunteer together?
The Holcombe House location currently allows a minimum size of 5 volunteers if only providing a meal and up to 12 if an activity is included. We are accepting catered meals at our hospital locations; however, group volunteers are not allowed per hospital policies at this time. If your group includes more than the maximum number of volunteers, we ask that you divide your group and provide meals on different dates if possible.
I have extra volunteers or children who want to attend, can they come and watch without volunteering?
No – everyone in your group should be there to actively volunteer. Children or adults beyond the maximum group size are not able to attend.
Someone in my volunteer group isn’t feeling well. Can they still participate?
All volunteers must be entirely illness- and symptom-free for at least 14 days before volunteering. For the safety of families, we will not allow volunteers with an illness or symptoms of any kind to participate at this time.
What time is best to come in to serve?
While we do have opportunities for both lunch and dinner time, we strongly suggest coming for dinner. The Families are usually at the hospital throughout the day. During dinner time more families can enjoy the meals and there is more opportunity for your group to interact with the families. Its usually a much better experience.
What is the time commitment for each meal?
Groups should plan to volunteer for 2-4 hours, depending on whether the food is being catered or prepared at the house and if there’s an activity with the meal. Please discuss with the Food Operations Manager.
Please note – groups are required to clean up after preparing the meal, so all volunteers should expect to be at the House until clean-up is complete.
Can I start meal preparation at my home?
No – to ensure food safety, all preparation must be done at the House. 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 store or restaurant to the House or Family Room.
If catering, how many people will I be ordering for?
At Holcombe House we currently serve between 75-80 family members; MDA Hospital serves 50 family members; CMHH serves 25 family members; and TCH serves 35 family members. Since these can be large orders, you might need to place it at least 24 hours in advance. For an approximate catering cost per location, please refer to the Sponsor a Meal at RMH Houston table above.
What time should I have the food delivered?
We ask that food is dropped off at 11:45am for Lunch time and 5:45pm for dinner time. If you know there will be a delay, please call us to let us know. Lunch is served at 12:00pm, Dinner at 6:00pm and weekend breakfast at 10:00am.
What should I order?
It is truly your choice! Our families come from all over the world and enjoy a variety of cuisines. You can choose any restaurant, catering business or store you would like to support, or we can send a list of restaurant referrals. Although not required, please consider including a vegetarian or vegan option and/or a gluten-free option, when possible, to accommodate some of our guests’ dietary needs. For the hospitals, we ask that all meals be individually packaged (single serving, such as a boxed lunch).
I cannot afford to sponsor a whole meal. Can I donate a smaller amount?
We have a couple of great options to help feed our families if you cannot sponsor a meal. You can fill our pantry by donating individually packaged snacks for the families by shopping from our Amazon Wishlist. You can also donate an H-E-B e-gift card ($75 and up) to help purchase H-E-B simple meals for the families, UberEats gift cards ($25 and up) to help purchase a hospital family meal or donate online through our RMHH website by clicking the red donate link and add a note saying “JoyFULL Eats”.
Do I need to bring my own dishes, serving utensils, plates, to-go boxes, kitchen tools, etc.?
The Houses provide kitchen equipment, and it is fully stocked with pots, pans, and small appliances. Please bring all necessary paper items (plates, cups, utensils, napkins, to-go boxes) to serve and package leftover food for the families. If you have a question about a specific item, please contact the House where you plan to volunteer.
Can my group get a tour of the House after we volunteer?
Groups are welcome to tour the Holcombe house, just let us know ahead of time so that we can plan accordingly.
Who should I contact if I have more questions?
If you have questions about JoyFULL Eats, our current guidelines, or your group’s participation that haven’t been answered above, please contact the RMHH JoyFULL Eats Team, Bettina Leuschen and Kimberly Vega, at JoyFULLEats@rmhhouston.org.