Never underestimate the importance of food, ritual and the power of community. Here are a few simple ways to care for one another — and the planet.
Workplace or community food clubs encourage healthy eating, reduce waste, build connections, create belonging and provide opportunities to learn about each other. Better than eating alone in front of a screen!
Three ways to build community through food
Start a soup club
Can a pot of homemade soup save the planet? No. But here’s what it can do (use these tips to help with your office pitch):
- Free lunches! If 10 people join, that’s nine, no-cost, healthy, home-cooked lunches for each club member. Think of the coin you’ll save!
- Everyone is welcome. You’ll actually get a chance to chat with staffers on the other side of the office.
- Boosted productivity. Take back the lunch break and don’t eat at your desk. You’ll return to work refreshed, refocused, re-energized and relaxed.
- Try new recipes. Cater to the dietary needs of members, e.g., vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc. For the planet, emphasize organic, local, seasonal ingredients, maybe from peoples’ gardens.
- Less waste. No takeout containers!
- Try grandmas’ soup recipes from around the world. Learn and share a family recipe as well as customs, symbolism and roots.
How it works:
- Make an announcement a the staff meeting. Post or circulate a sign-up sheet listing dates with columns for the soup maker’s name, type of soup and another volunteer to bring bread or crackers.
- A soup maker who commutes by bus/train/bike can freeze it, especially if it’s made on the weekend. Or buy a used slow cooker or stock pot for the office and cook on-site.
- If people forget or cancel last minute, they can self-police, and find a substitute.
Start a salad club
It’s like a fresh salad bar right at your workplace — waste-free, nutritious lunches away from your desk! It’s easy to set up. Try it with friends or neighbours, too. (A great way to kick off spring after a fall soup club.)
- Cheap, delicious, nutritious lunches.
- Lunch away from your desk and screen — ideally outside.
- Less waste — fewer plastic containers from takeout.
You’ll probably find many more!
How it works:
- Each week, people take turns bringing greens and homemade or store-bought dressing. Post or circulate a sign-up sheet with dates (e.g., weekly at noon) and a row for names.
- Each club member signs up once. If there are 10 members, each gets nine, low-effort, nutritious, delicious lunches!
- On salad club day, everyone else brings one item to share. Suggestions: pickled vegetables, cooked quinoa, nuts (check for allergies) and seeds, chickpeas, fresh herbs, dried or fresh fruit, cheeses, etc.
This is a great way to use up stuff in your fridge.
Start a food circle
Everyone could benefit from a food circle at some time. Maybe you already have?
It’s a great way to help a family member, co- worker or neighbour, the best baby shower gift ever and a kindness for someone going through health problems or loss.
- Nutritious, healthy meals cooked with love.
- No pressure to shop or cook.
- No expectations to visit or play host.
- A chance to try new things.
How it works:
- There’s no “right” way!
- Ask first. Is it wanted? Are there dietary restrictions?
- Collect food givers’ email addresses or phone numbers —maybe post or circulate a sign-up sheet at your workplace.
- Make a calendar — shareable or one you manage as “food circle co-ordinator.”
- Suggest volunteers prepare dishes that freeze easily, like veggie chili and lasagna, quiche, soups and stews. Washed, chopped and ready-to-eat fresh organic, local fruit and veggies are a welcome treat, too. Pack food in reusable containers like pickle jars, stainless steel, etc.
Someone with freezer space who lives near the recipient can volunteer to be the drop-off depot. Or people can make their own deliveries — just confirm the appropriate day and time for the recipient.
Food circle co-ordinator responsibilities
- Schedule food drop-offs. Does the recipient prefer daily or weekly?
- Co-ordinate or make meal suggestions so the recipient isn’t eating lasagna for weeks.
- Thank participants!
- Check in with recipients to make sure they have what they need.
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