In the last year I’ve had an opportunity to work within a community of amazing families which have worked hard to make lasting behavioral changes in the way they share meals at home. To some of us this concept sounds so fundamental. I mean, isn’t that the way it’s done, after all? Not always, is the answer I can give you with certainty since working with Linda and Sunday Suppers families. A lot of us have grown accustomed to eating on the go. Whether we choose to SUPERSIZE our dinner, or not, sitting down & eating well almost seems like a thing of the past or some kind of ancient ritual. My meals before Sunday Suppers were pretty healthy. My idea of a good meal often requires me to go to the market and check out the produce, experiment with vibrant colors and textures with an open mind. Dinner is a time to entertain, be creative and share meals with family and friends. Without the worry oft having enough to feed a family of my own, I was not directly affected by food injustice, or so I thought.
When I took the Program Coordinator position at Sunday Suppers, I was immediately struck by the reality that entire families and neighborhoods are going to bed hungry every night. I kept asking myself how we allowed this to happen in a country of plenty. Linda’s idea to bring families back to basics by sharing food resources, while using the dinner table as a vehicle for change appealed to my sensibilities. I was eager to join her movement and excited to bring my creativity and even some of my own recipes to the fore. I began to reconnect to my roots by building relationships with the families, in a largely Latino community. It’s been an eye opening experience and I’m grateful for the opportunity.
Needless to say, this work has touched my heart deeply. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried. I’ve seen strangers become good friends, kids eating eggplant & squash, kale, carrot soup and salads, too. I’ve watched a culture create its own healthy food sub-culture where it was not a priority before. It’s been a year of Sundays and we’ve covered the food groups, in this time, two healthy babies were born to SS families. We visited an organic farm in New Jersey, we walked against hunger in Philly, and we planted a community garden in a city plot – successfully harvesting a variety of delicious vegetables! We have celebrated eating healthy and we gave away turkeys on Thanksgiving & Christmas. We volunteered at SHARE Food Program numerous times, toured a local super market for money saving tips, we even challenged ourselves to rethink our drink by cutting back soda and drinking more water. Yes, we are making better choices folks, Sunday Suppers works!
My hopeful spirit wants everyone to be open to change, and I understand that change takes time, patience and resources. We constantly need to be reminded that food affects more than simply satisfying our hunger, it reaches into emotion, energy, behavior and ultimately health. No doubt the family meal brings us together; it builds us up and allows us to take breaks from the stressors of life’s routine. However, whether we’re adults, toddlers or teens, and all the numbers in between, we are what we eat!
In my own time, I take little breaks to watch the rain fall upon my vegetable garden and I’m delighted by the miracle of its growth and its progress. This has made me appreciate my own personal relationship with food; I’m expecting continued favorable outcomes for Sunday Suppers families, too!