Due to evolving public health concerns pertaining to the spread of COVID-19, YouthCare has put all volunteer activities temporarily on hold. Our volunteer community is a pillar on which we depend on for effective services and consistent support. In particular, our meal volunteers not only serve most meals at Orion but generously cover most of the meal costs as well. Amongst other challenges, COVID-19 has generated unanticipated food costs for YouthCare.

We know everyone in our community is grappling with how to respond to this virus. If you have the resources, please consider sponsoring a meal so we can ensure every young people has nutritious food to stay healthy. Dinner at the Orion Center costs approximately $250 to prepare; takeout costs approximately $350. If you would like to sponsor a meal, please donate here and write “Orion Meal Program” in the comments section. Thank you!

Meals at YouthCare’s Orion Center don’t just help youth experiencing homelessness stay healthy: they’re key to building relationships and cultivating trust. Lunch and dinner are served Monday through Friday. Groups prepare and serve meals for up to sixty youth each meal.

Sign up to serve a meal

A Typical Meal Shift

Each 2.5-hour volunteer shift consists of the same tasks:

  • Prepare and cook your meal with assistance from the Orion Center Meal Coordinator
  • Serve youth cafeteria-style for thirty minutes
  • Clean up for thirty minutes

Meal Volunteer FAQs

What are the food preparation options?

  • Bring uncooked, unprepared food (40 to 50 servings) and cook it in YouthCare’s commercial kitchen. Please include a vegan entree option, fruit, and vegetables.
  • Donate money to cover the cost of food. We recommend $250 to cover the total cost of the meal, however, any amount is appreciated to assist in meal costs. Visit the donate page and in the comment section when you are donating, please indicate your donation is intended for meal service at the Orion Center.
  • Prepare a meal with food from the kitchen. We will make arrangements to ensure food is available to cook for when your group arrives. Your helping hands and smiling faces are invaluable and our community’s homeless youth still need your help.

What kind of food can I donate?

We accept unopened, non-perishable food donations.  Any prepared food you would like to donate must be prepared in a commercial kitchen in the presence of someone with a Food Handler’s Permit. The Orion Center’s kitchen is a commercial kitchen, so meal groups who have no access to a commercial kitchen must prepare their meal at the Orion Center.

Will we have help from YouthCare staff?

Yes! Our Meal Coordinator at the Orion Center will help you get situated in the kitchen, guide the meal shift, and make sure you have what you need.

Can my kids serve a meal with me?

All volunteers must be at least 18 years old in order to participate on-site.

How big can a meal group be?

The appropriate group size depends on the meal being served. In general, an ideal group has three to eight people.

Can I show up early or can we drop off food before our meal shift?

Please contact if you need to make arrangements to drop off food outside the standard times. We want to ensure staff are prepared and can help when you arrive.

Do I need a Food Handlers Permit?

Volunteers are not required to have a Food Handler’s Permit as the Orion Center Meal Coordinator will be present during your meal shift.