About this Meal Train
Host a Meal
Our guests are always grateful when organizations or groups host a meal at the house. We welcome several hosted meals per week, during weekday evenings or mornings, which is when the most guests are available to sit down and enjoy.
There are a few things to keep in mind as you and/or your organization plans the meal:
Guests will be notified about the meal or event through a variety of in-house communications. However, please understand that our guests have very spur-of-the-moment lives while staying with us at the Fisher House. Someone may intend to come to the meal and then be called suddenly to the hospital for an emergency. We do not judge the success of an event by how many guests are present for the event. The value of your time and service to our families is appreciated no matter what. Please know that all guests will benefit, even if they are not able to join you for the meal.
We cannot predict occupancy with any accuracy as guests are checking in and out all the time. Even if we gave you a head count the morning of your event it could easily change before you arrive. Therefore, we suggest you plan to cook for 15. Leftovers can be stored in the house “fair game” fridge for guests who come in after the event. Please put the event date on any leftovers.
Your volunteer group is welcomed and encouraged to join the families for dinner and we strongly suggest that your cooking groups not exceed 8 people. Too large a group proves to be intimidating to guests who would otherwise feel free to use the kitchen prior to the meal. Please factor your volunteers into the total guest count.
Guests typically begin to return from the hospital between 5 and 6 p.m. We recommend serving dinner anytime between 5 – 6:30 p.m., with most volunteer groups choosing to have dinner ready for service between 5:30 and 6pm. Buffet service from the kitchen island works best.
Volunteers have the option of preparing meals offsite and bringing them in or using our big, beautiful kitchen to prepare and cook the meal.
The Fisher House kitchen is well stocked with pots, pans, utensils and small appliances. We have 2 cooktops, 2 ovens, 2 microwaves, a dishwasher and a crockpot. Volunteers provide the ingredients for the meal they are preparing but are welcome to use our pantry stock to fill in. We have plenty of spices and seasonings for your use and all serving necessities.
Because we serve an average of 60 families a month we can’t possibly stay on top of special dietary restrictions so volunteers do not have to worry about that either. Guests with allergies or other restrictions will ask if they aren’t sure they can eat something.
No alcohol is permitted on the campus of VA Pittsburgh. That includes bringing in wine and beer used as cooking ingredients.
We ask volunteers to clean up from the meal preparation and if you are staying to visit with our guests and share the meal, which we highly encourage, please cleanup as much as possible prior to your departure. All members of your volunteer group must depart the house by 7:30 p.m.
When you are ready to leave just bundle the leftovers into the center “fair game” fridge, finish tidying up and take your leave. Late arrivals know to look in the “fair game” fridge for leftovers.
Fisher House office staff is available between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Someone from your group needs to arrive at Fisher House prior to the office closing and will then be responsible for letting in anyone arriving after 4 p.m. If this is the first time your group is volunteering at Fisher House we ask that you make an appointment to meet with the Management staff during business hours prior to the date of your event. If your event is scheduled for a weekend, arrangements must be made at least one month prior to let you into the house.
Fisher House is a secure building. Please do not prop doors and do not open the door to anyone who is not a member of your volunteer group. Note that guests are not to open the door to anyone they don’t know so it is important that volunteers never arrive without making prior arrangements.
Children are welcome to attend and assist, but must be supervised at all times.
CONTACT HEATHER FRANTZ, THE FISHER HOUSE MANAGER, AT HEATHER.FRANTZ@VA.GOV OR 412-360-2030 for questions.