Provision CARES Foundation

Provision CARES Foundation

The Caring Plate

The Caring Plate assures cancer patients currently receiving treatment or recovering have access to healthy nutritious meals.  Provision CARES Foundation partnered with the  Community Action Committee (CAC) to sponsor the Caring Plate as a pilot program in 2014.  Patients, families, physicians and their clinical team all found the program to be beneficial since often, when undergoing treatment, patients or their families may be impacted by the inability to prepare healthy or nutritious meals.  Nutrition and strength play an important role during treatment and recovery.  Since its inception, The Caring Plate has provided more than 74,300 meals to cancer patients and their families.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible?
Cancer patients who are currently receiving treatment and meet the program criteria can be referred by a physician affiliated with participating healthcare providers. Current partners include East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center, Provision CARES Proton Therapy, Provision Radiation Therapy, Tennessee Cancer Specialists, Brig Center for Cancer Care, and the University of Tennessee Cancer Institute.

The Provision CARES Foundation intends to expand this program to additional medical providers as funds become available. If you are a healthcare provider interested in the program, please contact us.

How are Referrals made?
Physicians and/or nurses at the medical providers listed above can send referrals to The Caring Plate via fax or email. A completed and signed “request for service” form from the physician’s office will serve as authorization to begin meal service. The Caring Plate or the Provision CARES Foundation can provide the “request for service” form for physician’s office use. A staff member from The Caring Plate will confirm receipt to the physician’s office with a meal delivery start date. Each Physician’s office will designate a key contact person for The Caring Plate staff to communicate.

What happens next?
The Caring Plate staff will contact each participant. A telephone interview will be conducted and The Caring Plate will complete an “intake” form. The staff member will also review the program details with the participant at this time. Menu options, meal start date, delivery times, contact information, directions to home, etc. will be discussed.

When will meals start?
Generally from the time the referral is received to the first delivery will be three working days unless the participant’s treatment begins at a later date.

When and how are meals delivered?
Meals are delivered each weekday, usually between 10:30 am and 12:30 pm. Meals are delivered by volunteers who are donating their time. Background checks are completed on all The Caring Plate volunteers. Volunteers also participate in a training program to prepare them for their service.

How long will a participant receive meals? 
The referring physician will designate the length of time each participant receives meals. Changes to the length of service and/or to stop service will be accepted by The Caring Plate office from the referring physician’s office. The Caring Plate will provide a “change/stop service” form to the physician’s office. Should a participant cancel meal service directly with The Caring Plate, the referring physician will be notified.

How is food prepared?
The food is prepared and packaged in the CAC, located at 1747 Reynolds St. off Western Avenue in Knoxville. The kitchen is a state-of-the-art facility with cook-chill equipment and special accommodations for food safety. Meals are prepared and packaged in advance, chilled until the day of delivery, and heated just before delivery.

What will the meal be like?
Participants will receive a choice of entrée each day. They will receive the options on a monthly calendar type format and be asked to circle either “A” or “B” and send back their selections with the volunteer. The “B” entrée is a meatless option.

The menu is planned so that each meal meets one-third of the Recommended Dietary Allowance for the day. The meal will include a meat or meat substitute, three servings of vegetables or fruit, bread and milk. The participants can choose either 1% milk or buttermilk. The meals are acceptable for a bland or moderately low-salt diet.

The entrée part of the meal is served hot unless the person requests having it delivered cold. If a person prefers to eat the meal at a later time, the quality of the food will be better if it is heated only once when the person is ready to eat.

What happens if a person is not home to get their meal?
The Caring Plate participants are asked to alert The Caring Plate office when they know they are not going to be home when the meals arrive. If someone doesn’t answer the door, volunteers are instructed to call the office. Staff will then call the participant and instruct the volunteer accordingly. He or she may have been home but did not hear the door.

If the participant is not home, the office will call the emergency contact persons. Volunteers report the person is not home and the staff begins a search for the participant. If they aren’t found by 4:00 p.m., the staff will call the police or sheriff’s department to perform a wellness check.

Is The Caring Plate served on the weekend too?
The Caring Plate does not deliver on the weekends. Each Friday the volunteer will deliver two frozen meals and a nutritional supplement for weekend use.

What happens on holidays or bad weather?
The Caring Plate does deliver holiday meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas day. The Caring Plate staff will contact participants in advance to verify their need for meal delivery on these days.

If there is a day that The Caring Plate cannot deliver, boxed emergency meals are previously provided to everyone on the program. These are shelf stable meals that can be stored in a cabinet. These shelf stable meals are also delivered to participants during the winter in anticipation of inclement weather. The Caring Plate tries to deliver meals whenever possible in bad weather. An announcement will be made on radio or TV that “The Caring Plate” will not be served today, please eat the emergency meal.” The Caring Plate staff will make phone calls to participants to check on their well being on bad weather days.

Is there any cost to receive the meals?
There is no cost for cancer patients and approved additional participants to participate in this program. Funding for this program is provided by the Provision CARES Foundation. Additional donations from community members are needed and graciously accepted in order to allow for more patients to be served.

Participation Surveys
In addition to regular conversations with participants, The Caring Plate program conducts surveys on a regular basis to assure the service is meeting the needs of participants and to make improvements.

For patient referral questions or information, please contact the Caring Plate at 865-524-2786.

For more information about the program or to learn how you might support the Caring Plate, please contact Provision CARES at 865-321-4589.

We would like to thank the many individuals and businesses who support this program.  We would like to give special recognition to two great organizations that have made the expansion of this program possible.

The Butterfly Fund of East Tennessee ( provided a grant to help the Provision CARES Foundation expand The Caring Plate program and its Patient Financial Assistance program to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, exclusively for pediatric patients. We would also like to recognize the East Tennessee Foundation ( which administers the Butterfly Fund and provides excellent support for grantors and grant recipients.


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