Clare of Assisi Homes developed its Diversity Luncheon program to solve two problems within the community. The first was that after food deliveries from the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, Clare of Assisi staff noticed that large quantities of certain commodities were left behind by residents on the free table, despite the fact that many residents were very low income and often in need of food. Residents stated these items were unappetizing, and as a result the food was often sent back to the food bank. The second issue was that attendance at their monthly potluck lunches was dwindling.
As a solution, the Resident Steering Committee revamped the monthly potluck gatherings as Diversity Luncheons. The main course was provided and created using leftover commodities, and the local transitional special education program assisted with table set up and clean up. Residents could bring a side dish if they wanted, but everyone was welcome to attend.
The featured food of the Diversity Lunch was also included in the Clare of Assisi monthly newsletter, with the food’s history or use around the world. A cookbook was published in September 2013 with recipes from the dishes made.
There were many positive benefits that resulted from the program. Attendance increased, as the luncheon provided an event where residents could socialize freely. Residents who had never attended a potluck joined the Diversity Luncheons, including non-English speaking residents. The program promoted diversity awareness, and residents were able to make food from their culture. Relationships were built between the residents and the young people from the special education program. Financial barriers and negative stigma were eliminated, as residents, some of whom didn’t cook or couldn’t afford to, were not required to bring a dish. Commodities were no longer returned to the food bank. An unexpected result of the program was that residents expressed interest in using herbs in their cooking, and the local Rotary Club built a raised garden on the property.
The Diversity Luncheon program was the recipient of the 2nd place Innovation in Service Coordination Award in 2014.
For more information on the program, contact AASC.