Thoughts on Food, Togetherness, and the Community Dinner

By: Jessica M. Beaupre

For the last eight years, I've thought constantly about the food that goes into our mouths each day. I grew up on the north-side of Milwaukee with three sisters and quickly learned that I was one of the only children that came home to a home-cooked meal. A meal made from my mother and grandmother doing the best they could with very little money in their pockets when there was cheap fast food all around. My sisters and I were envious of all the other children that got to eat fast food each night but eventually learned we were blessed.  Blessed to eat together each night at the kitchen table. After growing up and moving out of my parents' house, I went to live with my sister who had married and started her own garden for self-sustainability. Within these few short years I realized that my sister and this small garden, were the biggest inspiration of my life. We worked hard in the garden, no doubt, but we reaped the rewards, for we spent little to no money feeding ourselves with nutritious foods that tasted like no other! We even built our relationship with each other; our own little community.  One taste experience at a time I gained respect for true, whole foods that are so nutritious they can act as medicine. 

As we build relationships with our local community, we can find the ripest, most nutritious foods as close to our homes as possible. In doing so, we support our community by creating more jobs, enriching local wealth, and reducing fossil fuels used to put food on our plates. Eating good food, together has taught me that a meal is not just for ingesting and digesting food, it is an experience, and a truly great one at that. This experience is an opportunity to change your relationship with the food that you eat and with the people around you. We choose those who we would like to eat and enjoy a meal with. This is an opportunity to nurture and grow our relationships with them at the dinner table. When eating together, we can relax and share our feeling with those we dine with, expressing emotion. Whether we share a laugh, a story, or a concern, we share something together along with a meal. We create community. 

Nourish has shown me and made me part of a community that is so beautiful.  A community of collaborative and empowering individuals that I am privileged to have met. They have taught me so much that I will carry with me including educating the community and positively influencing community wellness overall. I'm excited to share a meal at Nourish's Community Dinner with you all before I continue my journey in Milwaukee as a food coach for the summer months, then continuing forward from there. Thank you all so much.

Jessica Beaupre, Spring 2018 Nourish Intern

Jbeaupre@uwm.edu

University of Milwaukee- Wisconsin; Nutritional Science Major, certified in Complementary and Integrative Medicine