For the conclusion of our Winter Community Dinner Series at the Boys and Girls Club of Lynn, we decided that a pizza party would be fun. To kick it off, the children prepared the pizza toppings under adult supervision, chopping broccoli, bell pepper, onion, mushroom and tomato.
Later, the kids assembled their pizzas while the adults met with FDP Director John Sarrouf to share family meal strategies with one another. The children spread the sauce, sprinkled the cheese and meticulously placed their preferred toppings on their crust, producing mountainous, colorful pizza pies. While the pizzas baked, the kids finished setting the table and preparing the green salad and Italian dressing. Reunited, the group said a toast, and then each person shared a “Rose” (high point) and “Thorn” (low point) of their day with the rest of the table. Some reluctant salad-eaters were pleasantly surprised by its deliciousness! (One mom remarked, “I didn’t mean to eat the salad at all, and I ended up eating the whole thing!”) A lively round of “I Spy” ensued as we dug into the pizza.
As we transitioned to dessert-making (Greek yogurt parfait with blueberries and oats), I could not help but think of what John terms the “abundant community.” Standing around the dessert table, the parents shared stories about money and parenting, and stood in solidarity with one another amid the struggle. It became obvious that the role of The Family Dinner Project staff lay not in lecturing families about our expertise, so much as bringing them together to exchange expertise of their own. We at FDP have certainly done a lot of thinking about this, and have gathered the experiences of families around the country as we have grown, but ultimately our programs are about families discovering the abundant resources that have existed – in themselves and in one another – all along.
The Family Dinner Project is more than a movement of hassle-free recipes and clever techniques for managing children, or of projecting an image of picture-perfect families. It is about building bonds within families and bridges between them. It is about community. It is about becoming the family you want to be and about creating the community you want to be a part of. And through its focus on ethics and outreach, it is about becoming good human beings.