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Volunteers “sorely needed” for Primary Children’s Adopt-A-Meal program



Megan Wallgren | Lehi Free Press

Helping families during crisis is the mission of The Ronald McDonald Family Room at the Miller Campus of Primary Children’s Hospital in Lehi. This mission can’t be fulfilled without the time and donations of area residents.

“All services are provided free of charge by Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area and are funded by community sponsors, community partners and individual donors,” said Ashley Parks, Volunteer and Community Engagement Specialist at the Lehi facility.

Parks said volunteers are sorely needed for their Adopt-A-Meal program that provides lunches and dinners to families with children in the hospital.

“Our goal is to serve lunch at 1 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m. every day, free of charge to patient families. There are 14 possible slots for groups to serve each week. We’re currently filling about half of those,” Parks said.

A hot, home-cooked meal makes a big difference to those families. Without Adopt-A-Meal volunteers, parents must leave the hospital to go out, eat from vending machines or order from DoorDash. 

“They are super grateful for homemade, nutritious meals. Just the fact that they don’t have to make it, don’t have to buy it, don’t have to think about it—it’s just here. It’s a tiny bright spot on a really hard day,” she said.

Parks knows because she’s been in their shoes. She lost a child to cancer in 2020 and relied on Ronald McDonald House services during that time. 


” As soon as it’s your child in the hospital, this charity changes your life,” she said. “It’s nice to have on the radar to count on during stressful times when things are out of control. It can ease the daily burdens so parents can focus on taking care of their child.”

For the Adopt-A-Meal programs, small groups of up to 8 people plan, shop for, and prepare a meal for up to 25 people. Parks suggests thinking of it like planning for an extended family gathering. “It’s like having your family over for a meal,” she said. “The meals don’t have to be pricey or complicated; they just have to be complete.” 

Parks recalled an example of one class group from a local church that served grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch. “The families loved it, and it was simple enough for three or four 12- and 13-year-old girls to make,” she said. 

Parks said the meals don’t have to be vegetarian, but need to have enough sides so that someone who doesn’t eat meat can get full. “Some type of bowl or salad lends itself to this because people can pick and choose what they want to add or leave out,” she said.

Parks said serving through Adopt-A-Meal is a great activity for families. “Kids love this. You can plan, shop and serve as a family,” she said. The program has no age requirements and only asks that children are adequately supervised by a reasonable number of adults for the age of the children.

The Ronald McDonald Family Room at the Miller Campus has 3,200 square feet of space on the third floor. It includes a laundry facility, shower, a guest computer bar, a fully stocked kitchen with community-donated snacks and meals, and four rooms that can be scheduled for naps and overnight stays. There is a family room with books and toys and a quiet room where people can talk on the phone privately or have a quiet moment to themselves.

Community members can also serve by gathering items on the facility’s wish list. Groups who collect list items can also set up a “Housewarming Party” where someone from the Ronald McDonald Family Room staff will come give a presentation about the charity so those in attendance can understand the impact of their donations. “This is a great option for church groups, youth groups, businesses and community organizations,” Parks said.

Parks said the organization is also piloting having small groups come to put together grab-and-go snack bags and bake fresh cookies. “Anything we can do to make this space feel like home and not the hospital means so much,” she said.


Interested volunteers can sign up by visiting the organization’s website at Adopt-A-Meal link. A wish list can also be found there. Be sure the Lehi location is indicated in your selections. Those wanting to host a Housewarming Party, sign up to make cookies or snacks, or interested in any other information about the charity, can contact Parks at

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