At QC Family Tree, we’ve been hosting community meals since the beginning of our work in 2005. For many of those years, shared suppers with big crowds happened five or six days a week. The solidarity we built around the table changed all of us. We thought we’d offer a few things we’ve learned along the way, lessons learned from mistakes we made and celebrations of some things we did well. Thinking of expanding your table? Here are a few things to consider:
- Ask about preferences and restrictions. What foods could be dangerous to people? What should you avoid in order to honor a person’s cultural, family, and religious norms? What should you include?
- Talk about religion and politics. We know the cliche. But why not talk about things that matter?
- Know yourself and your context. What is your social location? How do institutional and systemic power work in your neighborhood? How might those influences affect your guests?
- Everybody can serve. Insisting on yourself or your institution doing all the cooking and serving and cleaning is assuming a position of power. It is not hospitable - it is a way of marking out territory. Invite everyone to contribute in some way. This will help you subvert hierarchies of power and privilege.
- Encourage someone else to host. Hospitality and welcome are sometimes exercises of privilege. They invite people into “our” turf, but they never changed the way power works in our relationships with spaces and with one another. Subvert that power by finding spaces other than your own.
- Getting Something to Eat in Jackson by Joseph Ewoodzie
- Podcast: "A Hungry Society"