Meal train

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Meal Train
Meal Train Logo.png
Type of site
Crowdsourcing for Donations/Meals
Available in English
Headquarters Burlington, Vermont, U.S.
Slogan(s) Support Friends, Strengthen Communities
Website www.mealtrain.com
Launched January 25, 2010; 7 years ago (2010-01-25)
Current status Active

Mealtrain.com is a crowdsourcing platform that helps organize home-made meal giving for a friend around a birth, surgery or illness also known as a Meal Train.[1][2] The company is based in Burlington, Vermont.[3]

History[edit]

Mealtrain.com was founded in January 2010 by Michael Laramee & Stephen DePasquale from a desire to solve the real world challenge of supporting friends during a exciting (i.e. birth or adoption) or difficult time (i.e. illness, treatment, condolences).

In September 2009, Kathleen (wife of co-founder, Michael Laramee) volunteered to organize the giving of meals, known as a meal train, to support a neighborhood family after the birth of a new baby. As the organizer, Kathleen made a list of the family’s meal preferences and preferred dates in addition to collecting names of friends and neighborhood parents who had expressed interest in participating in the meal train. Once the baby arrived, she sent an e-mail to each family asking them to contact her to book a night.

While embracing her role, Kathleen was frequently asked the same questions from the potential givers "What days are they available? What do they like to eat? What have they already had? How many should I cook for? Can I reschedule?" In addition, the recipient family was also asking questions: "Who is delivering tonight? Can we invite more people? Someone just called and wants to bring something by, are we available? Can you tell people not to bring any more soup?" As the number of participants grew, the process became difficult to keep organized. In discussing her challenges with Michael, he said "There has to be a better way."

Mealtrain.com was launched in January 2010.[4]

Social Impact[edit]

Since launching the site, Mealtrain.com has helped organize more than 6 million meals for over 600,000 families around the world. On any given night, over 7,500 people are making and delivering a meal.[5]

Occasions[edit]

Meal trains are commonly organized after significant life events, including birth, adoption, surgery, illness, death, divorce, or moving to a new community. Caring friends, family, co-workers, congregation members, neighbors, and communities show their excitement or compassion through the organized delivery meals.

Importance[edit]

During significant life events, schedules and routines are often disrupted and the cooking of a healthy meal may become very difficult.[6] The organization of a meal train helps ensure that during these challenging times, a nourishing meal is provided to those in need. The meal train also allows for friends, family, co-workers, congregation members, neighbors, and community to show their support for those during significant life events. This sharing strengthens friendships, neighborhoods, and communities.[7]

Process[edit]

The meal train is typically organized by a friend of the family (organizer) who has knowledge of the recipient’s meal preferences, allergies, schedule, calendar, and knows who should be included. With this information, the organizer creates a meal sign up calendar of the available days and known meal preferences. Then, s/he contacts friends of the recipient to let them know that a meal train has been created and to ask if they would like to participate in bringing a meal to the friend in need (recipient). The organizer keeps track of the days that are booked and what meals will be given and communicates the information to the meal recipient and other participants. Additional friends and family who would like to participate after the initial invitation contact the coordinator to learn the specifics of the meal train.

Challenges[edit]

The following are items that should be considered to ensure the success of a meal train.[8][9]

  • Date when the recipient would like the meals to start
  • Date the recipient would like to stop receiving meals
  • Booked vs. available nights
  • Time the recipient eats dinner
  • Food allergies
  • Dietary restrictions (vegetarian, vegan, allergies, etc.)
  • Food preferences
  • Take-out preferences
  • Meals already delivered
  • Number of people the meal should feed
  • How much the giver should bring
  • How long the giver should stay when dropping off a meal
  • Is there anything else that is needed (groceries)
  • Conflicts with the giving parties’ schedules

The success of a meal train is dependent on the organizer’s ability to keep careful track of changes to the meal sign up calendar and to be able to relay this information to both the recipient and friends of the recipient. mealtrain.com plays an important role in facilitating meal train creation as it offers a free shared real-time calendar to ensure information is communicated between parties promptly.[10]

Legal[edit]

Meal Train is a registered trademark (Reg. No. 3,817,151) of Meal Train LLC doing business as www.mealtrain.com [11]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Real Simple Magazine. "6 Problem Solvers". Retrieved January 18, 2011. 
  2. ^ "How to Organize a Meal Train". mealtrain.com. Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  3. ^ GuidePosts. "Organizing Helping Hands". Retrieved November 16, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Mealtrain.com How it Started". Meal Train LLC. Retrieved August 14, 2015. 
  5. ^ Meal Train. "Social Impact". Retrieved January 31, 2017. 
  6. ^ New York Times. "What Not to Say to a Cancer Patient". Retrieved November 28, 2016. 
  7. ^ NBC Nightly News. "Volunteers Use Meal Train to Help Ease the Burden for Those in Need". Retrieved October 23, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Meal Train Etiquette". Hither and Tither. Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Meal Train: Making Meals for Neighbors in Need". AllRecipes. Retrieved September 7, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Meal Train Makes It Easier to Organize Meal Deliveries". Parenting Magazine. Retrieved April 2, 2012. 
  11. ^ United States Patent and Trademark Office. "Trademark". Retrieved January 31, 2017.