Meals to Heal: Cooking for students in isolation

Meals to Heal offers food to those in isolation regardless of whether or not they are sick.

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Baas

Meals to Heal offers food to those in isolation regardless of whether or not they are sick.

While cooking dinner, junior Rebekah Baas had an idea. Looking at her leftover soup, Baas thought about students who are isolating or in quarantine because of the coronavirus, and from there, Meals to Heal was born. 

Meals to Heal is a new group of students who have dedicated themselves to cooking and delivering meals to those in isolation. 

Meals to Heal deliberately hasn’t set out strict criteria for the recipients. Both those who are actually ill with COVID-19 and those simply stuck in isolation are encouraged to request food, which is delivered to them for free. 

Baas sees providing dinner for students in isolation as a way to express gratitude for the sacrifices they are making to keep the Calvin community safe. “Thank you for taking it seriously and self-isolating,” she said. “You deserve this.”

Meals to Heal communicates through their Instagram page, @mealstoheal.calvin, a  platform Baas chose because so many Calvin students use it. Students who want to request a meal simply fill out a form linked in the bio that includes a place to note allergies and special diets. Several of the cooks specialize in vegan or vegetarian meals.

At home, Baas said her church has a system where volunteers each make a meal for those who are experiencing loss, so that the cooking job isn’t all on one person. This concept of many hands making light work is key to how Meals to Heal operates. 

There are currently about ten student cooks, so no one student will feel pressured to take multiple orders per day. The cooks are encouraged to make extra portions for themselves as well. Baas strongly emphasized that you don’t have to be a skilled cook to volunteer with Meals to Heal. “Cook whatever you are making for dinner!” she said. 

What is made is completely up to the cooks. Baas has been making soups, including chicken noodle, white chicken chile, and broccoli cheddar. Student cooks can either make meals ahead of time and freeze them or cook when they receive a request. 

Right now, Meals to Heal’s main goal is to increase their name recognition. The group is very new, having been started on September 5. So far, they have only completed one meal delivery. “You can’t fill out a form if you don’t know it exists,” said Baas. The group is using their Instagram to connect with students and is working to form partnerships with other student groups. 

If they help even one person during the pandemic, then Meals to Heal has been a success, Baas said. “We’re just a group of people who want to do some good,” she said, noting that the group is a concrete way to personally help other people during a very challenging time.

Any student who wants to get involved with the cooking community can send an Instagram DM to @mealstoheal.calvin or email Rebekah Baas at [email protected].

To request a meal, students can use the form linked in the Instagram bio.