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By: Michelle Donovan, Food Service Director, Leonard Florence Center for Living
Have you ever stopped to think about the role that food plays in our daily lives? After all, eating is something we do everyday and usually without a second thought–especially in today’s often hectic, always moving way of life.
At its most basic level, food fuels us. It is a biological necessity. We eat for sustenance– to give our body’s systems the energy it needs to function. We eat to promote our own health and survival, and to lead our lives.
But food also impacts us on a psychological level. It has the ability to change our mood, for example, and usually for the better. Just try and be angry when the smell of brownies baking in the oven is totally surrounding you!
Food soothes the soul. Think of how comforting your favorite meal can be when you’ve had a long, hard day. It envelopes you; it embraces you.
Food even has the power to transport us back to some of the best moments in our lives. If you were to think about some of the happiest times in your life- whether it was baking cookies with Mom as a child, or a holiday celebration last year where your whole family was together—undoubtedly, food played a role.
One of the most significant roles that food plays in our lives, and one that is at the root of most of the others, is a social role. It provides us with the setting to foster, build and strengthen our relationships. It brings people together. There’s a reason why the idea of the “family dinner” has been a part of many cultures since the beginning of time—it’s powerful! Food provides the venue for families and friends to come together to share their lives. You may or may not remember the meal you had on a particular evening, but you most likely remember the people you were with, and that time spent enriches your life.
One of the things I love most about my career is being able to witness this every day. While it is wonderful to walk through any of the houses at the Leonard Florence Center for living and pretty much always smell something delicious cooking, it pales in comparison to the way our residents and their friends and families can bond over food served here. All of the house residents dine at one big, family table—a table that is always open to visitors. New friends are made over dinner every night in the rehab houses. Old friends come together over coffee and something sweet in the café. Husbands, wives, children and grandchildren gather round the table for Sunday lunch. Lives are shared and memories are made.
The role that food plays in our lives is a vital one—simply put, I can’t think of anything else that has the power to nourish us mind, body and soul!