I find it beautiful how in almost every culture, communities come together to share food. There is just something about good food that makes for good company, and I would have to say the great company here is feeding us far too well. Today, at San Miguel Middle School, my SOUL teammates and I had the opportunity to share in an all-school lunch that was prepared by the students’ parents. The homemade arroz, frijoles, tamales, and tinga were amazing. Normally the students eat typical cafeteria food with just their own class. Today, everyone, students of all grades, parents, staff, and volunteers, ate together, and delicious would be a grave understatement. There was a great sense of community, and the principle used the opportunity to recognize the students for their accomplishments. Many students were recognized for various accomplishments, and while there were a bit shy and embarrassed to stand and applauded by their peers, it was good for them to see that others were proud of them so they could be proud of themselves. In particular, one student was recognized as the champion of the all-school Spelling Bee. He was congratulated and presented with a certificate of accomplishment in front of his mother who had helped prepare the meal. He hadn’t told his mother that he had won the competition, and if it hadn’t been for the community meal, maybe he wouldn’t have. She never would have had the chance to be proud of him.
Immediately after the school, my SOUL teammates and I rushed home to share in a yet another example of community coming together over food; this time in the Wednesday social at the Brothers’ residence. The sky was a bit gloomy, but the weather was warm so all of us gathered out on the patio and shared a great variety of appetizer-type dishes, including wings and mozzarella sticks. We chatted, laughed and sang, before moving indoors to have dinner. The chatting and especially the laughing continued through dinner and late into the evening. There is something about sharing a meal that strengthens the bonds of community and helps to form new ones, and there is something about being able to share in that community that can turn a bad day into a good one, and an average moment into a lasting memory.
– Carina Friend