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Community around the table

Mary Ryan, corporate director of culinary services | Mar 12, 2020


Growing up, food was always a significant part of my family. I enjoyed countless meals at my grandparents’ table, sharing laughter as we passed the salt. When we gathered, it was very important we all sat at the table. And the dining room, where we sat and ate, was a place of communion with each other. As my grandfather thoughtfully passed food to each child, I learned each person around the table, whether they were sitting next to or across from me, was valuable.

When my grandfather passed away, the first thing my family did was share a meal. Gathering around a table is truly so much more than just eating.

As people age, isolation can be a challenge. What better way to introduce people and form community than over a meal? On any given day, a peek into our dining areas and you’ll find a book club meeting, friends sitting in silence with coffee and newspapers, or a group discussing politics. Life happens in an informal, dynamic atmosphere.

Throughout the year, food-related events are woven into the fabric of Walker Methodist. Communities host activities including interactive pickle-making classes, pie-making programs, and corn-shucking contests. Life enrichment partners with the culinary team to bring engaging programs that allows residents to connect with others and share who they are.

Events like “hot dishes by hot dishes” at Walker Methodist Levande bring back memories many residents associate with food, allowing them to share their beloved recipes. After receiving recipe submissions from residents, chefs make the dishes. Then, residents share their stories and are acknowledged in the community. Not only do residents get choices in their menu options––they can give back, too.

When people are known, they know they belong. When our culinary team learns a resident’s likes and dislikes, community is fostered. It’s the same feeling as being known as a “regular” at a favorite local café. Residents know places like T.B. Walker Grill and Harriet’s Deli are gathering spots where they belong––and where they can entertain family while having their needs met.

Food is the universal connector, especially when a resident is joining a new community. At Walker Methodist, we believe food isn’t just part of our communities. It is the vehicle to community itself.

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