British Columbia

Want to help a friend in need with food? It just got easier

New baby? Recent surgery? The time-honoured response from friends and family to any kind of life challenge is food. Our food columnist has an online tool to coordinate these acts of kindness.

Meal Train website helps friends and family schedule the gift of food

Meal Train and other websites help people organize food gifts for friends facing challenges. (Nattapol Sritongcom/Shutterstock)

If you want to help a friend dealing with illness, tragedy or some other life challenge with food, On The Coast food columnist Gail Johnson is highlighting a website to make it easier than ever.

That website is called Meal Train: an interactive online calendar that helps friends coordinate the giving of food.

As Johnson knows first-hand, the gift of food can be very meaningful: her husband is a three-time cancer survivor.

"I remember something a friend said after he was first diagnosed with lymphoma and was going through chemotherapy: the only way she knew how to help was through food," she told On The Coast guest host Tanya Fletcher.

"She would put together these beautiful baskets with dishes that she said brought her comfort: one was Hungarian stuffed peppers and baguettes, olives, cheese and even treats like chocolate. We'll never forget it.

"It's such a touching way to say 'I'm here for you. You're nourishing someone's belly and their soul."

The problem, Johnson says, is coordinating that kindness: how do you make sure your loved one isn't getting mac and cheese four days in a row?

Avoid duplication

Organizers using Meal Train can post days on the calendar when someone is in need of food. People watching the calendar can enter details about what they can bring that day to avoid any duplication with other participants.

Participants get email reminders, and the recipient gets a heads-up as to when meals are going to be delivered.

You can also enter details like food sensitivities as well as preferences, a preferred time of day for food to be dropped off and delivery instructions.

"When people are dealing with illness or grief, they may or may not be up for a visit," Johnson said. "So what you can do is have the recipient leave a cooler outside their front door. That way, people can simply deliver the food without bothering them. If they're up for a visit, they'll let you know."

Other websites that have similar tools Johnson recommends are and

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast