Most people are aware of the significant impact food insecurity can have on hunger, but it goes much deeper than this. Have you ever thought about the many ways that food connects people and what happens when food insecurity disrupts this?
People connect over food. Holidays, date nights, celebrations, maybe even a weekly meal with family or friends, typically brings us together over food. Connection starts with the question of “what should we have for dinner, or, where do you want to go eat?” Then at the dinner table, sharing and passing dishes continues to build this connection.
Eating together as a family provides a loving, safe space for children to develop a sense of security and belonging. One of the healthy eating habits identified in the new Canada Food Guide released earlier this year is to eat meals with others.
Research shows that children who eat with their families frequently (5 or more times per week) have higher self esteem, improved academic performance, and develop more resiliency. It was also found that there is a lower risk of obesity, substance abuse, depression, and teen pregnancy.
The good news is, this positive connection doesn’t have to come from eating dinner together.
Researchers have found that the positive outcomes are attributed to the connection that is brought on by sitting around a table having conversations. Therefore, if dinner is challenging, try to pick another meal that everyone can be together, like breakfast.
Another example of connection over food is in school meal programs where all children are encouraged to participate, regardless if they need the extra nourishment from food. Having every child participating and eating together breaks down barriers that may be perceived by children in other activities at school. The children can talk about how the food tastes or what the choices were that day. This peer to peer connection happens because of the opportunity to eat together.
Food does a lot more than nourish our bodies and prevent us from becoming hungry. The emotional connections that happen over preparing, cooking and eating food are plentiful and one more reason I Can for Kids is so passionate about ending childhood summer hunger.
Click here to provide an opportunity for Calgary children to connect over food this summer.