PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Ronald McDonald House at OHSU, along Portland’s south waterfront, is hosting a cook-off fundraiser on Sunday to support the non-profit’s efforts providing children and their families a place to stay during hospital treatments.

As four Portland chefs go head-to-head in the Food Fight to make the best mac and cheese, the non-profit hopes to raise $25,000 to provide 100 nights of meals for families.

The waterfront Ronald McDonald House, one of four in Oregon, opened its doors in 2019.

“It truly feels like coming home. Families come home and they feel this sense of peace and belonging,” said Anna Williams, senior director of development and communications at Ronald McDonald House.

The Ronald McDonald House kitchen offers a place for families to grab food prepared by a chef or make meals of their own, Williams explained.

“In the last few years, we just realized how essential food is. And I know that seems obvious, but especially when our families are here and staying with us, being able to provide a nightly dinner and easy to-go breakfast options just brings that care to a whole new level,” said Kara Klepinger, director of meal and enrichment programming.

Having a place to eat also gives families space to connect with others during meals, Klepinger said adding, “it really is more about just the food. It’s also about creating community.”

The Ronald McDonald House also has a play area near the kitchen where volunteers lead crafts and other activities.

“Every kid that checks in gets a little visit to the toy store that they get to redeem, and they get to come here and pick out whatever you would like out of the toy closet,” Williams said – noting siblings also get to pick out toys.

Additionally, the organization has a room geared for teens, a family activity room filled with toys, books and games and offers a laundry room.

“Even though that isn’t glamorous and sexy, laundry is one of the biggest things that we hear from families that it’s nice to have,” Williams said. “So often, families are coming to us with a bag of clothes, or you know, sometimes not even that. We’ve had a family that was life flighted from the beach wearing nothing but swimsuits.”

While the bedroom sleeps up to six people, Williams says “if you need a friend, grandma, grandpa, aunt and uncle here, you’re more than welcome to bring whoever you need to best support your stay,” Williams said.

“Families that come to stay with us are facing some of the most stressful times of their lives. Their kid is ill or injured and needs medical care at one of the local hospitals, which is far away from their home,” Williams explained. “So, when they come to us and their whole world has been turned upside down, we just want them to feel the love and the comfort of a hug, of welcoming them to their home away from home for as long as they need us.”

The Food Fight cook-off will be livestreamed on the Ronald McDonald House Oregon Instagram page March 11 and those who donate will be entered in a drawing to be one of the judges.