New Year's resolutions: 5 ways you can build community through sharing a meal

Looking to make a change for the better this year? Start it by sharing a meal.

The holidays are a perfect excuse to gather together and enjoy a meal, and we know that there are lots of benefits to eating together—it’s well-documented that preparing and enjoying food together helps everyone’s health and well-being. But when so many people live alone (or are isolated from each other in apartment buildings), how do you make communal meal times happen?

Food and mealtimes can be a wonderful part of teaching your kids to be good friends and neighbours, so when you celebrate the new year, consider this easy but meaningful family resolution: inviting your friends and neighbours to share more meals this year.

The easiest way to do this is a classic neighbour tactic: if you bake or make soup, just make a little extra so that you can invite your neighbours to have some too! Adopt the delicious Scandanavian tradition of fika—a casual afternoon coffee break that is always enjoyed with others—never alone!. Inviting everyone to a pot-luck dinner is also an easy and casual way to re-connect with your community—plus, it’s a great way to discover new recipes to love. 

You can level up these drop-offs or casual coffees into community swaps: you’ve probably heard of cookie or preserves swaps (here’s a great tutorial on throwing a charitable one that’s a combination of a tasting party and cookie exchange!), but a pantry swap is a helpful twist on this idea: friends and neighbours gather together to swap freezable meals or homemade pantry items (think pancake mix or jars of soup mix) as a way to refresh their pantries and to enjoy exchanging recipes.  Of course, when a friend (or a friend of a friend) gets sick or has a baby, a smart way to support them is by dropping off some comfort food or a meal. And when the weather warms up, block parties are a great way to get to know your neighbours (they’re easier than you might think to organize!)

Reaching out beyond your circle of family and friends is an even more rewarding way to connect. Try just getting to know the people who grow your food at BC's winter farmers' markets, or attend a community meal (if you’re in Vancouver, consider taking your family to Ukrainain Perogie night just once—this video captures how sitting at communal tables and meeting new people is part of the fun!). Or, check out whether your area offers a meal delivery program like Meals on Wheels. In Vancouver, parents and kids can volunteer together through Care BC to deliver meals and break isolation for seniors—separate organizations handle neighbouring areas like North Vancouver and Burnaby so you'll want to research what your local offerings are. It’s worth noting that Care BC's volunteer hours (and Meals on Wheels programs as a rule) are between 10:30 and 1—so if your child is homeschooled, or you’re looking for a way to structure monthly PD days, check out their application form! For more about what this kind of volunteering is like, here’s a sweet profile of a father-son delivery team.

Do you have any meal resolutions this year? We’d love to hear about them over on our Facebook page or Instagram feed. And if your New Year’s resolution is to get your family in the kitchen more often, here are our tutorials on how to get your year off to a tasty start!

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