Food fosters community
Community events are a great way to celebrate diversity of thought, converse with neighbors, and share a meal. Wallingford Community Senior Center hosted its third annual Harvest Breakfast on Saturday, September 6, and more than 120 people turned out to enjoy the good company and good food.
“Really good food. Everything was really nice,” said Davi Asnani, who attended the breakfast with her daughter Sheela Hodges and granddaughter Claire. They were joined later by Hodges’s husband and other children.
“They all enjoyed [themselves],” said Asnani. “In our family, everyone comes to support each other … They want to be with seniors, too.”
Pancake Breakfasts, Movie Nights, Harvest Breakfasts, and the Wallingford Family Parade and Festival are all events WCSC has done to help bring people together of different generations. While seniors and aging issues are always WCSC’s focus, these community events foster cross-generational interaction to build a more inclusive community, a critical component to fighting ageism and isolation.
“We [are] … trying to create opportunities where we get rid of generational barriers,” said Kathleen Cromp, Executive Director at WCSC.
Food is often at the heart of WCSC’s community events.
“I think it is about comfort. One of the things I’ve learned about intergenerational interactions is that … we need to look for the naturally occurring opportunities that [are] easy and not contrived. Going to a pancake breakfast doesn’t feel as contrived [as other potential intergenerational programs],” said Cromp.
On Saturday, September 27, WCSC will host “A Night in Spain,” another community event designed to bring people together through good food. On the menu: authentic paella cooked by Jim Yragui.
“I started making this recipe twenty-five years ago for small groups of four and six … My heritage is Spanish, and I lived in Spain for four years. I am kind of a dreamer, and I like pitching things and selling dreams. I get to pretend I’m a real Spaniard for one night,” Yragui said.
The event is a first for WCSC, but the idea that good food leads to good community engagement is an old one. Meeting and connecting with others is pretty easy when there is tasty food to share.
“Spiritual traditions talk about this as breaking bread together,” said Yragui. “Social connection is fundamental to [a] successful life … It’s about being closer to each other and a simpler life. Good health, good friends, a little bit of money, and a lot of time to enjoy it all.”
Yragui, who does complimentary Medicare consulting, says that leading a healthy life requires a trusting community of people who can look out for one another. He gathers sponsors to pay for the dinners to keep the ticket prices low and so the money can go to the hosting community organization.
“[It’s] about the buddy system. It’s survival,” said Yragui. “Getting old is about going into the big unknown, and you better have your buddies lined up.”
Get more information on “A Night in Spain” here. Be sure to also check out the Thanksgiving Luncheon on November 21 and the Snowman Pancake Breakfast on December 7.
Want to get involved in building a tighter knit community? Email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call (206-461-7825) Javier for information about how you can make an impact at these events.