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 25 youth each meal.

Sign up to cook on site

Sign up to deliver a meal


If you would like to reserve a meal on the meal calendar for your group, please email

A Typical Meal Shift

Each 2.5-hour volunteer shift includes:

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

Meal Volunteer FAQs

What are the food preparation options?

  1. Bring uncooked, unprepared food (30-35 servings) and cook it in YouthCare’s commercial kitchen. Please include a vegan entree option, fruit, and vegetables.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 five people.

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

Once you sign up for a shift, you will see contact information to email 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.

What do I need to know about COVID-19 related protocols?

This volunteer opportunity takes place in an “engagement center,” which means new youth may show up for a meal that we’ve never met before. Because of the  drop-in nature of these services, we cannot guarantee that all youth in YouthCare services are vaccinated. However, we do require that all volunteers and staff are vaccinated.

  • Please Health Screen: All volunteers involved in food preparation and transport must screen themselves for COVID symptoms before they cook/deliver. Everyone involved in food preparation and transport must ensure they are not symptomatic for Covid-19 and/or have not been exposed to others who are symptomatic or others who have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Hand Hygiene: Volunteers must frequently wash hands, and if hand washing is not available, use 60% alcohol based hand sanitizer as directed on label.
  • Social Distance: Ensure social distancing is practiced as much as possible when at YouthCare, this means making sure there is at least six feet between you and anyone else.
  • Wear a Mask: Although the Washington State mask mandate has been lifted, we will continue to require that all volunteers wear masks while at YouthCare.