Meal Care

At First Baptist, one of our core values is Genuine Care for People. Meal Care during a difficult season is one of the best ways to share the love of Jesus with church members. Galatians 6:10 says, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” In seeking to be obedient to Jesus, we want to surround one another with compassion and mercy through preparing food and meeting the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Meal Care Basics

Who provides meal care?
The whole church! Meal Care is a great example of “one-anothering!” Typically, Life Groups and Sunday School classes set up and provide care for their own group members, but we encourage coordinating Meal Trains across groups and age brackets through our Meal Care Committee in order to maximize care! This is especially important for volunteers, new members, or irregular attenders who are not yet in a Sunday school class or group.
I love preparing meals and serving others. How can I get more involved with Meal Care in our church?

The Meal Care Ministry at First Baptist is always in need of volunteers who are willing to prepare meals on a moment’s notice for a family in need. Sometimes, there will be gaps to be filled in Meal Trains. Other times, we can use extra Meal Care Coordinators who can work with families on setting up Meal Trains and spreading the word. If you are interested in volunteering with this ministry, head to fbcjax.com/serve and click on “Meal Care Team.” Once you are placed on the team, you’ll hear from a deacon on the Meal Care Committee who will let you know of opportunities to serve.

What is a Meal Train?
A Meal Train is an organized effort to supply a series of meals to a family in need over the span of a few days or weeks.
When do we provide Meal Care? What are the circumstances for which we set up a Meal Train?
Meal Care should be provided to families who are experiencing particularly difficult seasons in life such as surgery/hospitalization, immediate family bereavement, birth of a baby, new adoption or fostering of a child, or destructive home emergency that significantly upsets the normal flow of life for an extended period of time (such as a house fire or flood).
How many meals should we supply?

For most situations, we recommend supplying 3-4 meals per week, over a span of 1-2 weeks. This will cover the family without overwhelming their fridge space. Towards the end of the planned Meal Train, check-in with the family to see if they may be in need of more meals.

If I cannot prepare a meal, is it acceptable to provide the family with gift cards to a restaurant or delivery service?
Absolutely! We recognize that not everyone has the time or ability to prepare a meal for someone else, but still desire to help. In these times, we encourage purchasing a gift card to a restaurant that has delivery service or from an app-based delivery service such as DoorDash or GrubHub. Make sure you still sign up for a spot on the Meal Care schedule even if you are purchasing a gift card.
If I am purchasing a gift card for a family, how much money should I donate?

We recommend the following amounts:

  • For families of 1-2 people – $25-30
  • For families of 3-4 people – $35-45
  • For families of 5+ people – $50
I can’t provide meals or a gift card for a family but would still love to help. What can I do?
There are plenty of ways to help families in need. Some examples are dog-walking, childcare, and cleaning. Reach out to the family’s Meal Care Coordinator to see if you can volunteer to help the family in one of these ways.

Meal Care Coordination

Who organizes Meal Care?
Different groups organize their Meal Trains in different ways. Some groups designate one or two Meal Care Coordinators who administrate all of the Meal Trains within a particular group. For other groups, different folks volunteer each time a new Meal Train is set up. Check with your group leader about how your group does things.
What is the Meal Care Committee?
The Meal Care Committee is a team of deacons dedicated to overseeing and coordinating Meal Care throughout the church body. Each deacon on the Meal Care Committee is assigned to particular Life Group Leaders and age groups. These deacons facilitate the coordination of care between different groups. If your group is ever in need of assistance with Meal Care – set-up, volunteers, coordination, etc. – contact your assigned deacon.
Is there an app or website the church uses to schedule and track Meal Care?

Yes! We use TakeThemAMeal.com to schedule and track Meal Trains throughout the church.

How do I log in to TakeThemAMeal and sign up to help?
To see a list of current Meal Trains, in the Find box, type “First Baptist Jacksonville” (without quotes) in the Recipient Last Name box. Type the password provided by your Meal Care Coordinator in the Password field.
I am setting up a Meal Train for someone. What should I consider?
  • How many people? Will in-laws or other family be present and need meals as well?
  • What time should the food be delivered?
  • What are the family’s food preferences (likes/dislikes/cuisines), dietary restrictions, and allergies?
  • What carry out restaurants and gift card locations are preferred?
  • What are the names, ages, and interests of children in the home?
  • What extra supplies are helpful? (paper towels, napkins, etc.)
  • What freezer/refrigerator space is available for meals?
How do I set up a Meal Train for someone?

Head to TakeThemAMeal.com and click Create. Follow the instructions to fill out the form:

  • For the Meal Recipient First Name, type the meal recipient’s ENTIRE name (first AND last)
  • For the Meal Recipient Last Name, type “First Baptist Jacksonville”
  • The User Password is one you will distribute to your class to find the family needing care. Please make sure to send this password to your assigned Meal Care Committee deacon.
    • Setting up the Meal Train this way allows us to track it as a church and feature it for others in the church to join.

Fill out the rest of the form to set things up. Be sure to include special drop-off instructions like gate codes or restrictions on ringing the doorbell (sleeping babies!) You can then click “Invite Friends” and share the schedule via Facebook, text message, email, or direct link. You can find more information on setting up a Meal Train using the website at TakeThemAMeal.com/help. If you are having difficulty setting up a Meal Train through TakeThemAMeal, contact your Meal Train Committee deacon for assistance.

I am organizing a one-time potluck event (such as for a funeral). What should I do?

Head to PerfectPotluck.com and follow the instructions. This site is run by the same folks at TakeThemAMeal and functions very similarly.

Meal Care Tips

When preparing a meal:
  • Before deciding on a meal to prepare, check with the Meal Care Coordinator or the website for allergies or dietary restrictions. In general, it is good practice to avoid foods people have strong opinions about, such as fish.
  • Stick with a dish that’s simple to prepare and that you’ve made before. Choose foods that are easy to serve and require little set-up or extra preparation on the family’s part.
  • Focus on fresh and healthy items. If possible, include a sweet for dessert!
  • Avoid bringing bulky serveware like glass 9x13s or large platters. These often take up a great deal of refrigerator/kitchen space and must later be returned to the owner. Instead, bring items in disposable containers, especially Oven-to-Table foil pans which make for easy reheating. Other examples include Ziploc bags and mason jars.
  • Package each item carefully to avoid spillage on the drive-over.
  • Label each container clearly.
  • Make larger servings of at least one item that freezes well.
  • Write a personal note or card with an encouraging Scripture passage for the family.
When dropping off a meal:
  • Include serving & reheating instructions.
  • Text or call ahead before you drop off to give the family a heads-up.
  • For a family who has a newborn, avoid ringing the doorbell. Call or text that you have arrived or knock gently.
  • Don’t stay too long. Drop the meal off and be on your way. Consider dropping frozen meals off in a cooler on the porch for those who are ill or immune-compromised.
  • If possible, and unless otherwise noted, bring your meal hot and ready for the table.
  • Follow up with the family a few weeks later, letting them know you’re continuing to pray for them and are available to serve them.