Food on Build Day and Beyond

You're almost there! The good news is most of your work is behind you because of your planning. Address these final steps and you're on your way to a new playspace!

Final tasks
Build Day

Final tasks


Every team needs to have a back-up plan in case of extreme weather. If Mother Nature throws a curve ball, your first task is to stay positive! Your spirit and energy will be contagious.

Discuss with your team how you'll transport and store the food and supplies so that they stay out of the elements. Is there an indoor location nearby where you can serve food? As you make a plan, here are some supplies that may come in handy:

  • Duct tape or clamps to secure tablecloths under windy conditions.
  • Containers for (or heavy objects to hold down) plates, napkins, etc.
  • A large tent to keep the food tables (and volunteers!) dry or out of the sun.
  • Plastic or canvas tarps to hang up if rain is blowing sideways.
  • Hot beverages for cold or rainy weather.
  • Cold beverages or popsicles for extreme summer heat.

Wrapping Up Team Tasks

"Everything was set up. The coffee shop manager promised early delivery at 7 a.m. but at 8 a.m. we still had no coffee for volunteers! I tried calling, but their shop didn't open until 9 a.m. Somebody messed up and I couldn't contact anyone because the only phone number I had [was] a contact number for the actual day of the project!"
—Rhetta, Mt. Carroll, IL, playground build

As you approach the build, it's time to finish solicitations and tally the final results. Complete your donor list as well as a final count of the food you've been promised. Take care of these final tasks and you'll be ready to go:

Organize donor confirmation calls
The playspace build is a big deal to you and your team, but food donors are busy and it may slip their minds. They may also realize, at the last minute, that they have scheduling conflicts! First, make sure that all of your donors have received written confirmation letters. Then divide your donor list into small groups and have each of your team members conduct follow-up calls, to be completed the week before the build. Be sure to confirm a) what food is being donated, b) how much is being donated, c) what time the food is needed, d) whether it will be dropped off or picked up, and e) the name and information of a contact person who will be available on the day the food is needed.

Assign food pick-up
For those donors who can't make deliveries, you'll need to arrange food pick-up with your team members. Make sure that everyone is aware of the schedule, and that plenty of cars are available!

Finalize your food service system
The key to food service is to keep people moving through the lines quickly. If you have several lines going at once, with only a few choices of food, you'll expedite the process. Decide with your team who will be doing what, and make sure that all your tables are fully staffed.

Consider emergency sources of food
Just in case you need a last-minute case of soda or bag of apples, designate a "runner" who will have a car on hand. Be sure to talk to your co-chair(s) about how much petty cash is available, and how it will be disbursed.

Set up a communication system
You may need a way to contact donors and volunteers from the build site. Discuss this with your co-chair(s); they may have a cellular phone available for your use. Make sure that important contacts have the number where they can reach you.

Purchase remaining supplies
Make a list and check it're ready to build a playspace!

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Your co-chair(s) will need your help in creating a detailed site layout that shows the location of all the teams' activities. To do your part, sketch the location and orientation of your team's tables (including one for children, if applicable). If you have a choice of where to set up, take into consideration where items will be dropped off and how far they need to be carried. It's also a good idea to set up near a shady, restful spot.

An official Build Timetable is another way for co-chair(s) to ensure that everyone is on the same page...literally! It's essentially a detailed schedule for site prep and Build Days, a single document that pulls together all the teams' activities and lists them in order. Your co-chair(s) will need from you a detailed Food Team schedule, including your team's arrival times, deliveries of food, meal and snack times, and who will be participating in each task.


Your co-chair(s) have probably scheduled a walk through, or "dress rehearsal," a day or two before the build. This is your chance to bring all the project leaders up to speed...after all, hungry volunteers will turn to every team captain and every Build Captain with one question: when's lunch? Be sure to clarify the following information:

  • What meals will be served?
  • Who will be preparing food and where?
  • When will volunteers eat, and what will the procedure be?
  • Will children and adults eat together or separately?
  • Who's responsible for clean-up?

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Build Day

  • First thing in the morning, set up the serving area and make sure it's clearly marked. Count your supplies. Put out soap or a bucket of water so that volunteers can wash their hands before eating.
  • As food volunteers arrive, greet them and make sure that they're properly registered. Explain the food service procedures and answer any questions they may have. Check your timetable to make sure that volunteers are showing up to fulfill their shifts.
  • Be aware of the status of all pick-ups and deliveries; it's ultimately your job to make sure that the food arrives on time.
  • Supervise the food area during meal times; in between, be sure to check in often and make sure everything is running smoothly.
  • Make sure there's enough food for everyone! If your turnout far exceeds what was expected, use your emergency funds to purchase more food.
  • Before you pack up the food, make sure that everyone has gotten something to eat...hard-working volunteers often ignore their own needs!
  • Keep an eye on volunteers' energy; if they seem to be flagging, suggest a break to your Construction Captain and co-chair(s).
  • Keep the line to a minimum by calling groups of volunteers to lunch by team.
  • Restock the water, soda and ice supplies whenever they get low. Volunteers need to stay hydrated!
  • Keep the food service area clean.
  • Supervise site clean-up after each meal and at the end of the day.
  • Encourage everyone to have fun!

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Thanks to your efforts, your community is now a better place for children and their families. Great work! You've shown people what can happen when citizens fight for positive change, and you've created a working model for future projects. To make sure that these seeds of change grow and blossom in the years ahead, we suggest taking a few simple steps toward maintaining your playspace and its network of supporters:

Send thank-you letters
Can you think of people who deserve a special thank you for their hard work and support? Let them know! By taking the time to recognize them and make them feel appreciated, you ensure that they'll stay involved in your community in the future. For many people, the thrill of participating in a playspace build is the start of a lifelong commitment to service.

Evaluate your planning process
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently? What worked and what flopped? Your experience will prove invaluable to community organizers down the road, so take the time to record your team's thoughts. (You'll find an evaluation form below.)

Contribute to a "Friends of the Playspace" group
Your co-chair(s) or fellow team captains may be interested in forming an ongoing group to support the maintenance and programming of your new playspace. Food Team members can contribute by maintaining relationships with sponsors and volunteers, and giving them new opportunities to be involved. You might prepare food for an annual "Playspace Birthday Party," outdoor summer festival or bake sale. Or you could lead a community-garden project, teaching residents how to incorporate new herbs and spices into their cooking, and youth in the community how to care for growing plants. Whatever future your playspace holds, food and fun will certainly be a part of it!

Evaluation Form

Name of team captain:

  1. List the three most important objectives of your team.
  2. Did your team achieve its planned goals and objectives? If not, why?
  3. Was your advance planning beneficial to your team? If so, how?
  4. In what circumstances was your team especially effective?
  5. In what circumstances was your team not so effective?
  6. How much time would you guess an average team member spent on playspace planning per week?
  7. Regarding your team, what would you do differently next time, and why?
  8. What would you do exactly the same?
  9. Additional comments

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