By: Michael Laramee
The Dark Ages:
Have you ever wondered what you can do to help a friend in need? For generations, the answer has been simple -- prepare them a nourishing meal. Providing food for someone experiencing a significant life event (think birth, adoption, surgery or illness) has long been a symbol of care and support. It's a way to show that you’re there and that you want to make life a little easier; a simple gesture that fosters compassion, community and support.
But sometimes our efforts to help can make things more stressful. As the number of people wanting to help grows, too many meals can become overwhelming for a recipient to manage. They might be inundated with lasagnas and pestered with questions like "What do you like?", "When can I drop it off?" and "Do you have any allergies?" when they really need to be focused on the life event they are experiencing. Meal coordination can quickly become too much to handle and keeping track of emails and phone calls can be confusing and time-consuming.
In 2010, Meal Train was founded to manage the entire meal-giving process. It all started when my wife, Kathleen Laramee, volunteered to organize meals for a neighborhood family after the birth of their new baby. As the organizer, Kathleen was charged with making a list of meal preferences and preferred dates, and collecting names of friends and neighbors who wanted to participate. But, as the number of participants grew, the process became difficult to keep organized. This is when I had the "aha moment" and thought there should be a website to help with this. I reached out to my friend and software developer, Stephen DePasquale, and we devised a simplified process and launched the first version of Meal Train.
We chose the name Meal Train because it represented people moving in unison towards a common goal. While the first version wasn't perfect, (i.e. see the first logo imagery that we now describe as the Casserole Apocalypse) we knew we were on to something when MealTrain.com was released to the world on January 20, 2010 and caught on like wildfire.
Our very first Meal Train was organized in Berea, Kentucky by my mother, Monica Laramee, in support of a family who recently had a baby. In that first meal organizing effort, about 20 people participated. Eventually, one of those people identified someone else who could use some support and organized a Meal Train and invited a new group of participants. This has repeated for over 13 years and now the site has millions of users each month and has helped organize over 61 million meals. People now talk about setting up a Meal Train page like it's a no brainer - so much so that people think it has been around forever (which we love). Over the 13 years, it has been awesome to watch the ways MealTrain.com is used to organize meal support and as it continues to expand all around the world.
The Present and Future:
Fast forward to today and a world that has only gotten more complicated, making the need to support our friends and families more important than ever. Meals will always be an important way to show and receive love and support. At Meal Train, we will stay true to our mission:
Meal Train® simplifies the organization of meal giving around significant life events. We strive to simplify and promote interpersonal relationships between friends, families, and neighbors through meals.
We will continue to play a role in helping strengthen communities all around the world, one meal at a time.