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Organized food- giving- ever heard of this?

My friend had a baby last week. Her friend and manager has set up and is managing a schedule for who's-going-to-send-them-what-dinner-on-what-night and has sent updates pointing out open slots in the schedule.

I've been trying to figure out why it bugs me a little bit, and I think my issue is that the only time I'd ever even HEARD of this custom after a baby is born was when a friend at work was diagnosed with leukemia when she was pregnant with her second child and pretty much had to go in for the bone marrow transplant prep right after the baby was born, leaving her husband with an infant, a toddler, a full-time job, and his wife in the hospital with leukemia. Her coworkers organized a similar dinner-chain for the family, and I thought that was a pretty fabulous thing to do for them.

Fortunately for my friend the brand-new mom, her family is in no such dire straits Everybody's healthy and happy and they're financially comfortable. Has anybody heard of this custom before? One of the last things she said to me was "Bring me food!" which I thought was funny but I did feel a little bit of the "why?" in the back of my mind, knowing it was expected of me somehow.

I could go for some input from fellow Chowhounds about this, mostly whether this is a big worldwide custom that has somehow escaped me completely, or whether somebody's being overly entitled.

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  1. New Moms are often short on sleep--those first few days home can feel like an endless stream of feedings, diaper changes, and crying.

    I was one of the first of my friends to have kids, so aside from a baby gift at the shower, I always brought the new Mom food that was easy to eat out of hand/mug/took little or no prep (there are a number of threads on the subject o what to make on home cooking).

    This is the first I've heard of a schedule though. On the positive side, it seems more organized than people showing up all at once--depending on what was gifted they could wind up not being able to use it all before it went stale?

    1. When a friend's spouse was dying, I used mealbaby.com to organize food for the family (extended family members were arriving from out of town). Worked like a charm, and the family had plenty of food for several weeks. It would be a godsend for a new mom, anyone recovering from surgery, etc.

      1. My church has a schedule like this for new babies, terminal and temporary illnesses and the two months after a death, with a separate schedule for the funeral(we alternate as to who brings salad/main/dessert/sides).

        1. It does sound very generous. Does the new mom not have any family to help her out? It seems like a nice gesture for the first week or two, especially if there are unusual circumstances. If friend has healthy and available husband, Mom, in-laws, etc, dinner every night from her friends does seem like overkill. How long is this supposed to go on?

          3 Replies
          1. re: babette feasts

            Her family is several states away, as are her in-laws. Her husband does know how to cook, and she's a very good cook. He's working, she's on maternity leave, (obviously).

            I remember very well what it was like being a new mom, although it's been nearly 23 years. I had a whopping case of postpartum depression, too, but never thought to expect meals to be delivered, practically everybody has babies in their houses at some point. I guess I would have felt like I had a disease instead of a new baby if people had brought food to me for several weeks just for having a baby. And maybe that's because of my work friend's traumatic pregnancy and the aftermath.
            I guess this is just a difference in experiences.

            1. re: EWSflash

              The way I've experienced this is that the recipient does not expect anything. The food solicitation is set up by a friend for mutual friends to contribute or not. The recipient has nothing to do with it. In my experience, the slots filled up within hours, and would-be donors who were left out were disappointed. This is a gift, freely given.

              1. re: EWSflash

                Would it have helped if friends had brought you dinner after your baby? It was very helpful for me, even w/out postpartum, not to have to worry about dinner when someone did. I think that's the need people are trying to fill. I tend to bring dinner to people at the drop of a hat, not because I think a baby, spouse being shipped to Iraq, being really busy at work, etc. is a disease. Most people have babies at some point, tragedy, death, time constraints. It's one thing to expect others to do it, but it's very kind of people to step in to try to help.

            2. I've heard of it pretty often, not so much for new moms but for families where the mom (generally the mom) is very ill, where someone has passed away, severely injured. We have a Sunshine committee at our high school where the students are encouraged to volunteer to make a meal for a number of needy families, sometimes the same one. There are web-sites that make it easier to plan ahead and make sure the same food isn't brought over and over.

              Why does organized helping bother you? Is it because it's about a new mom and you don't think it's worthy? Do baby showers also bother you, if the person isn't needy? I'm not attacking your view, just trying to narrow down the reason. It would bother me if it were mandatory but I find it helpful--we know a family whose husband was recently killed by a drunk driver. We all brought a lot of food the first couple of weeks, way too much and it mostly went in the trash. If it were spread out more, somewhat organized, it would have been more helpful.

              As overly entitled goes, if the mom were the one to set up the schedule, yes, I'd feel that way. But, this was a gift to her that people wanted to do. What else could she do? You don't reject gifts given out of generosity.