Ready, set Cook! Family Dinner Programme

Donate NowVolunteer

Family Dinner Programme

A rewarding way to give back to families staying with us

Important Update: COVID-19

As of Monday, 23 March 2020, Family Dinner Programmes have been paused until further notice. 

If you have previously booked a date with us, we will contact you directly with an update.

The health and safety of the families who stay with us, volunteers, and all those working in this space is paramount to us.

We have taken our lead from the Ministry of Health, Canterbury District Health Board, hospital partners, and Ronald McDonald House Charities and feel this is the right decision to make at this time.

If you would still like to support the families staying at Ronald McDonald House South Island in lieu of participating in the Family Dinner Programme, we invite you to make an online donation here which will go towards providing alternative meals for families during this time.

Alternatively, we always welcome grocery vouchers. Please send vouchers to Ronald McDonald House South Island, PO Box 1463, Christchurch 8140

Thank you for your support and understanding  – we are confident that we will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever before and better equipped to meet the ever-changing needs of seriously ill children and their families



Do the Family Dinner Programme in Christchurch

“The Family Dinner Programme is so much more than feeding tired, stressed out, hungry families. It also creates some stability and normality, eating at a regular time and eating home-cooked food. It creates a gathering point where families share their trials and tribulations of the day.”

Pat Connell, Father, 229 nights


Give families the gift of time.

Cooking is often the last thing families have on their mind after a long day at the hospital – this is where you step in by volunteering to cook an evening meal for them.

You don’t have to be a culinary connoisseur – bring your energy, enthusiasm and ingredients, and have fun as a team!

By taking part in the Family Dinner Programme, your company, organisation or group will ensure that families can enjoy home-cooked, nutritious meals together at a time when they need them the most. Our Family Dinner Programme Calendar is below, the dates in green are free to book. Once you have completed your booking request, we will endeavour to contact you within 24 hours to approve your booking.

Click here to find out more about how the Family Dinner Programme works.
If you would like to cook breakfast for families, please contact us directly.


  •  Tentative
  •  Booked

September 2020


November 2020


February 2021


September 2021


November 2021


February 2022


How does it work?

The House in Christchurch has full kitchen facilities including five ovens and a barbecue so you won’t need to bring any cooking items with you.

The volunteering group must supply the ingredients for the meal. It may be possible for you to use some donated items, but please check with us before you approach businesses as we may already have a relationship with them.

On average, you would be catering for 40 to 60 people, including your team. We recommend you give us call the day before you take part in the programme to find out approximately how many people you will be cooking for.

We suggest a maximum of eight people cook the meal to enable the team to work easily within our kitchen facilities. It also ensures families aren’t overwhelmed.

If there are more than eight of you who want to get involved, you can book out several nights in a row and have a cook-off.

The menu!

This is your opportunity to rustle up all your culinary skills and create a two-course menu consisting of a main meal and a dessert. When selecting a menu try to choose simple meals that incorporate children’s tastes, while still being nutritious.

What happens on the night?

To minimise the risk of infection that can occur with re-heated meals, all meals must be prepared onsite.

It is preferable that you aim to have dinner served at 6 pm. Dinner is usually served buffet style, but you can serve individually if it suits your meal.

Please set the dining room to encourage socialisation. After you have served the families we encourage you to sit down and enjoy the meal with them.

Some families will not be able to make dinner service and will request a meal be kept aside for them. These meals are plated, covered in cling wrap and refrigerated. A schedule will be provided to you so you know who is dining in and who requires meals to be kept aside.

Help out in Invercargill

The Ronald McDonald Family Room, Southland Hospital does not currently have a regular Family Dinner Programme. However, there are still many ways you can help keep tummies full by donating towards the purchase of meals, or providing frozen meals. Contact our Family Room Supervisor to find out more.



Sign up for our eNewsletter to read inspiring stories from our families and keep up to date with Ronald McDonald House South Island news.

* indicates required