Some Advice from FOF Dallas Member Melanie


The Fellowship of Freethought Dallas has been participating in the AIDS Service of Dallas Ewing House Supper Club since January of 2010. The supper club consists of making a nutritious meal for residents of the home one evening a month. Many of the groups who come in are from churches but as far as we are aware FOF Dallas is the only secular group that participates. It is a fun and rewarding experience, and the patients of Ewing House really appreciate everything FOF Dallas does to keep the service friendly and the menu exciting.

For those of you who are interested in participating in a Supper Club in your own community, Melanie from FOF Dallas has the following helpful tips for you and your group!

Melanie Recommends:

  • Get a rough idea of what other groups are serving. The Ewing House has a record book where each group records the meals that they have served. They tend to get A LOT of casseroles, lasagna, people bringing in fried chicken, etc

The people at the ASD homes are very appreciative of anything brought in; however, I know they get bored with the same thing over and over. Who wouldn’t? So we try to use the cooking talents of our group to make unique meals such as stir fry, savory and sweet “pie night” and so on.

  • Create a “theme” for the menu. It helps make sure that everyone makes recipes that go together and you can use it to create a fun atmosphere. This past Thursday we had a Halloween theme and got to give out goody bags to the residents.
  • Make sure you have a sign-up sheet at that all participants do actually sign up for a particular item, that way you won’t have 5 different people bringing the same thing
  • Prepare most of the items, if not all, ahead of time so you’re ready to “heat and eat” once you actually get there.
  • For the first meal, make the foods easy to prepare, transport, and make sure the foods tend to be universally liked. Since our first experience was in January we did soups and chili; easy to make, easy to bring in a pot to reheat on the stove, and “comfort food” for many people.
  • Find out if people in the group have special dietary needs. I found out that one of the residents has celiac disease, and several of our regular volunteers are gluten intolerant as well! I know that that particular resident looks forward to a meal where he will have options that are clearly labeled.
  • Make things from scratch whenever possible. You get to try new recipes and people really do notice and appreciate the effort.
  • If you are the group leader, keep a set of supplies like serving utensils, cleaning supplies, etc. in such a way where you can easily transport them. I keep everything in several large plastic storage tubs and then I can just grab and go when our fourth Thursday of the month comes around!
  • Keep a record of the meals you’ve done and take notes on what works and what doesn’t. I’ve found that out the hard way! Even though all our meals have been successful we’ve had some meals where we ran short or ran way over on food. Fortunately we get to package up the leftovers for the “common” fridge (and they do get eaten!) so we don’t mind if we are a little over. You will want to repeat some successful themes again so that way you can make sure you have enough for next time!
  • Try to eat with the residents/people you are serving as much as you can, otherwise you get so caught up in the serving and cleaning that you forget to have fun!

Thank you, Melanie, for giving such practical advice and allowing other VBB Teams to benefit from your experience! If you are feeling inspired and want to get your group involved with a similar project, you can check Shelter Listings in your area to find humanitarian organization in need of your support.