When Dropping Off a Meal, Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Knowing how long to stay will leave everyone with positive vibes.

When a friend or family member is going through a challenging time—maybe they’re dealing with an illness, just had a baby, or experienced a loss in the family—it’s common to organize a Meal Train® page for that person.

If you’re not familiar, Meal Train is an organized way for friends and family to deliver home-cooked meals to someone who needs a helping hand. This practice is rooted in the idea that providing meals shows the recipient how much they’re loved and supported.

While the premise of Meal Train is simple, there are a few things to consider when participating. In this article, we’ll focus on one aspect in particular: how long to stay at the person’s home when dropping off a meal.

Here’s what you need to know.

How long should you stay when dropping off a meal?

When you sign up to bring a meal, assume you’ll simply drop it off and go. It’s common for the recipient to request that meals be left in a cooler on their front porch. If this is the case, don’t be offended - it’s truly nothing personal. The recipient is going through a challenging time and simply doesn’t feel up to socializing or perhaps doesn’t want to risk waking up their newborn.

If you are asked to stay when you drop off the meal, plan to stay no longer than 10-15 minutes. Why such a short period of time? A recent postpartum mother, someone dealing with an illness, or someone who is grieving is probably not ready to entertain. Many people are too polite to ask visitors to leave, so take it upon yourself to excuse yourself after a quick “hello” and well wishes.

The Meal Train organizer will let participants know what the recipient prefers, so be mindful of honoring their wishes.

Allow for flexibility

While the above-mentioned etiquette is standard, it’s certainly not set in stone. For instance, let’s say the Meal Train page organizer tells participants to leave the meals in a cooler on the front porch, but the recipient greets you at the door during a drop-off and asks you in. In these cases, go in for a brief visit if you have the time (and don’t have a contagious illness).

As another example, if you plan to drop off a meal and only stay for ten minutes, but the recipient asks you to stay longer or go for a walk, take their invitation in good faith and accept if you are able and have the time. Your companionship might be just what they need at that moment.

Simply put, go in with expectations based on previously suggested preferences, but let the recipient guide your behavior.

Offer to lend a helping hand during drop-offs

Something else to consider is offering the recipient a helping hand during drop-offs. Whether planned ahead of time or spur-of-the-moment, you could offer to wash dishes, take their dog for a walk, or take their kids to the park.

Of course, don’t push these offers. If the recipient declines, don’t insist. Take their word at face value and respect their boundaries.

The bottom line

A Meal Train is an expression of love that helps support friends and family during challenging times. When dropping off meals, it’s important to respect the recipient’s wishes and be mindful that they likely don’t feel up to socializing. By following the suggestions in this article, you can rest assured you’ll be supporting your friend or family member in the best way possible.