Good Shepherd

Impact Area

Help Neighbors in NeedWellness/Health

Volunteer Group Name & URL

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Gaithersburg

Organization Served & URL

Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless – Men’s Shelter

Project Goal/Description

To serve 160 to 400 people per month at the MCCH Men’s Shelter. The group usually goes on the second Monday and fourth Wednesday and provides a hot and complete meal. Outreach. Have had active social ministry committee and this is one of the bigger projects of the Social Ministry Committee.

Timeline for Planning

  • There is no prep space at the shelter but there is good prep space and a licensed commercial kitchen at the church. People often bring a dish from home, such as meatballs, and leave it in the freezer. Meal food can be homemade or store bought. Some food is donated from people’s homes and some is prepared at the church. The coordinator develops the recipe, and signup is online through
  • One Week or More Before: Sign up for your meal slot at and select when you’d like to prepare or bring in food.
  • Several Days Before: Feel free to bring in your prepared foods and leave it in the freezer. Meals can be homemade or store bought. There is even prep and kitchen space at the church!
  • The day of: Serve the meal!
  • Time Commitment: Prep time in church kitchen is 4-5:30.  Leave church together to carpool at about 5:30 or meet at the shelter. Service time is 6 to 7:30 at the shelter.


How Many Volunteers

There is a pool of about 150 volunteers, with about 40 to 60 involved in the dinner. Volunteer opportunities for the meal include 1) Food donor or chef, even something as simple as donating a pack of rolls 2) Being on the prep team at the church kitchen on service day. 3) Transporting food. 4) Serving food in the serving line. Anyone about age 8 and up can volunteer.

How Was This Publicized to Recruit Volunteers?

Publicity is done at the church in-house. A weekly newsletter comes out every week. Website is updated daily. Sign up Genius is on website. Mass email is sent out once a week (e-blast) to notify about what’s going on with the church and Facebook page has photos and info. There are also announcement screens in the Sanctuary so people can see ‘ads’ for what is needed. And paper forms are available on-line.

Required Facilities, Materials & Expenses

Staff time of one person two to three hours per week, now that Sign Up Genius is in place and have a steady pool of volunteers. Everyone pays for own food donation.  Now that she’s done it for a while it’s easier to do.  Paper goods are already at shelters. 



To not get in a rut and be to be able to provide healthy alternatives for the meals for diabetics, vegetarians, or others with special food needs. To time things right and to have the right quantities of each food – online signup has been helpful.

Group Type

FaithNeighborhood/Civic AssociationNonprofit

Strategic Priority Addressed

Healthy & Sustainable Communities


Volunteers get a sense of satisfaction of making a difference even from something small like a donation of a gallon of milk. People get the opportunity to see homelessness up close. Homeless men are engaged with volunteers (and that is encouraged). Homeless men receive a nutritious and complete meal (leftovers are also left there). Enjoyment on part of church members for being a part of this outreach.

Special Points of Interest

  • It’s a good community-building opportunity at church. For example, recipes are shared.
  • Signup Genie [at] is a great online tool-allowing people to sign up, see what others are bringing, and set reminders.
  • If you are committing to serve meals to others twice a month, it can be helpful to have a trained food service manager who can oversee meal planning and select and develop recipes. 
  • You can improve comfort level of volunteers by encouraging them to take on manageable recipes that don’t involve a huge amount of ingredients.
  • Try to choose healthy, comfort food such as meatloaf, mac and cheese, rice.
  • Make sure food safety procedure are in place: Wear prep gloves while preparing and serving