Meals, Let’s Cook!

Volunteers Marti and Ann, by Ilona Berzups
Help us provide campers with at least one hot meal a day by reserving your dates online.

What’s involved in serving a meal to encampment residents?

You are committing to preparing one hot meal for up to 100 people (depending on the encampment) plus however many of your group come along. This means bringing a balanced meal for all the residents, as well as bringing paper plates, cups, napkins and plastic cutlery. Please contact the camp directly to find out how many people are currently living in the camp.

If cost of the ingredients or a place to prepare the meal are stopping your group from making a meal, then please contact us to see if we can be of assistance.

A hot dinner is the meal we try to provide. It is helpful for it to be served around 6:00 PM. Your group should plan to arrive at the camp at least a half hour early to begin set-up. A group of 5-8 seems to work best.

You are encouraged to join the residents for dinner. It makes for a more welcoming and inclusive meal. It’s more about partnering with them, as they work to get back on their feet, rather than providing for them. You may also take a tour of the camp and talk to the residents – check with the folks at the encampment security tent for taking a tour.

Encampments are open to beginning the meal with a prayer, if your group so chooses.

When should we bring a meal?

Meals are tracked on the online calendar and dates that are blank don’t have a meal planned yet. Check the meal calendar for the encampment you’d like to serve for open dates and use the online reservation form to reserve a single day, multiple days or a regular monthly slot. To help us plan accordingly reservations are first-come, first-served based on when your reservation form/request is received.

What should we cook?

Need some ideas? Check out The site has a box to fill in the number of servings and it will automatically recalculate the amounts in the recipes. Here are some other things to keep in mind:

  • Think in terms of providing a main dish with protein, a starch, a vegetable, drinks, and fruit or dessert.
  • Pasta is done too often. Unless this is your Great-aunt Genoveva’s award-winning lasagna, try to avoid using high carbohydrate foods as the main dish.
  • Some encampment residents suffer from dental and gum difficulties. Nuts and raw vegetables can be difficult foods. Cooked vegetables are easier for many residents to consume. Lettuce-only for salads is great.
  • For beverages we recommend milk, tea (iced or hot), juices, lemonade, even bottled water. We don’t recommend sodas due to the low nutritional value.
  • Plan for generous servings. It’s OK if there are leftovers; they’ll be eaten up soon. Since the residents have only coolers for refrigeration, donations of bags of ice are always needed.
  • There is no way to heat up large amounts of food at the camp. No open flames are allowed.
  • Please bring paper plates and cups and plastic cutlery. If you could wrap the cutlery in napkins ahead of time, it makes it easier for the residents to move through the food line.
  • The meals don’t need to be fancy: aim for a balanced meal that is tasty, with plentiful servings.

Where do we cook?

Meals may be cooked at home, at a church kitchen or in a commercial kitchen. Please note that there are no facilities to cook or heat large amounts of food at camp. Wherever you cook, it is important to maintain food safety when preparing food.

  • Wash your hands before cooking.
  • Gloves are required when handling food that will be eaten without cooking or food that is already cooked and ready to serve.
  • Meats must be cooked to safety temperatures and held there till eaten.

Important Food Safety Facts
The Seattle & King County Public Health website provides a handy overview of Food Safety Facts to use as a guide.

What about serving?

You can bring a hot meal to the camp ready to serve. The Kitchen Coordinator can transfer the meal to encampment serving trays. Better yet, you may serve the food yourselves; just tell the folks at the front security tent that you want to serve and they’ll get the Kitchen Coordinator to arrange some tables for serving.

How much should we budget for this project?

You should plan on approximately $250 to serve a dinner for 100 people. Of course, this depends on the menu.

Still have questions?

If you have any questions not answered here, please contact our Meal Coordinator prior to reserving your dates online.

Thank you for considering this project.