Family Meals Program

The Children’s Inn at NIH is a caring place to be—a place to relax with other families that are undergoing serious medical treatment. After long travels, families are often tired and ready for a home-cooked meal. The Inn invites different groups and organizations to provide a large meal for all of the families. These meals allow families to relax, while alleviating the worries of transportation, grocery shopping, and the hassle of preparing a meal after a long day of traveling and appointments. This is also an opportunity for them to meet, mingle, and interact with other families, creating an environment of mutual support and caring.

Groups or organizations that provide family meals are encouraged to stay and serve the families. While we are at our busiest on Sundays, providing a family meal on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and or Thursday is also an option.

For FAQs, please see below.

Family Dinner

  • Served from 6:00 to 7:00pm.
  • Meals should include 5–6 courses plus beverages, i.e. Salad, 2 Main Course, 2 Sides, Dessert, Beverages. Please include a vegetarian entree and side.
  • In your beverage options, please include a ½ gallon of milk; 2% preferred.

Family Brunch

  • Served from 11:00am to 12:00pm.
  • Meals should include hot brunch food, and beverages, e.g. Eggs, Sausage, Waffles, Orange Juice, etc.

If you are a corporation or are interested in volunteering for the first time, please contact James Bragan at [email protected] or 301-827-6078.

If you are a returning group, please contact [email protected] or call Kelly Nguyen at 301-827-6074. 

Family Meals Calendar (with available dates)

Dates in green are available. To reserve a date, please email [email protected].

Family Meals FAQs

How many volunteers can my group bring?
Due to capacity guidelines, groups can bring a up to a maximum of 12 volunteers. If your group exceeds 12 participants, we ask that you please split up your group to provide dinners on two separate nights. The more meals, the merrier!

Can my child participate in serving brunch/dinner?
Unfortunately, due to our residents’ immunocompromised status, we ask that every volunteer be 18 years of age or older. There are several volunteer opportunities for children to support The Inn from home. Please click here for details.

How much food do we bring?
Our estimated number of guests is based on our room occupancy. The Family Program Coordinator will be reaching out to you the week before your service date to confirm an estimated head count. Our busy season falls during the Summer and Autumn, which we can expect 50–70 guests, whereas during the Winter and Spring, we range 35–50 guests.

If we end up with leftovers, what do we do with them?
The Inn will provide to-go containers in order to make additional meals for families who would like to eat at a later time or save for the next day. These will be labeled and distributed among our community fridges. Leftover trays can also be saved for our lunch program taking place the next day.

Will we need to bring disposable silverware and glassware?
Yes. Please include disposable napkins, plates, utensils, and cups. If serving soups or stews, please also bring disposable bowls.

Will we have kitchen supplies available to us?
Yes. You will have access to our full-equipped kitchen. There are bowls, baking pans, serving utensils, knives, cookie sheets, pots and pans, microwaves, 4-top electric stoves and ovens.

Can we drop off food at The Inn prior to the meal?
Yes. Volunteers are welcome to drop off food any time prior to brunch or dinner, please arrange a time with the Family Program Coordinator in order to ensure that storage or fridge space is available in advance.

Can we cater the meal from a restaurant? If so, where would you recommend?
Yes. You are more than welcome to cater the meal. Due to the security steps to enter the NIH campus, local restaurants like Baja Fresh, Panera, Corner Bakery Cafe, Golden House, etc. are good options as they are familiar with delivering to The Children’s Inn. Other popular pick-up spots would be Chipotle, Maggiano’s Little Italy, and Popeyes.

Do we need to accommodate special diets?
Yes. We ask that you include a vegetarian entrée in your menu. We host a handful of vegetarian families at The Inn.

Can we participate in brunch/dinner with my group and families?
Volunteers are welcome to partake in brunch/dinner after serving families, making sure that cleanup and wrap up by 12:30pm for brunch, and 7:30pm for dinner.

At what time can we start arriving to The Inn?
Volunteers can arrive at any time. If you are planning on cooking in our facilities, we recommend an arrival time of 10:00–10:30am for brunch, and 3:00–3:30pm for dinner. This way we can ensure that your meal is ready to be served by brunch/dinner time. If you are catering the meal, please arrive by 10:00am for brunch, and 5:00pm for dinner, giving you an hour to set-up the food.

Can we arrange a tour of The Inn during our service time?
Yes. Please arrange with the Family Program Coordinator prior to your brunch/dinner time. A tour of The Inn will require an earlier arrival time.