Guest Blog by Elizabeth Mac
Founder and Director
The Peace Meal Project, Boulder, CO
I am the Director of The Peace Meal Project in Boulder, Colorado. Through a series of serendipitous events, I had the great pleasure of connecting with Stephanie and Hannah of this PeaceMeal Project.
Two organizations. Different locations. Similar names. Similar missions.
And, now, partners in peace.
In Boulder, The Peace Meal Project hosts potluck dinner parties to bring people together for socializing as well as to raise awareness and funds for charity. Each of our gatherings benefits a different cause.
Our Recipe for Success:
~1. Bring people together in a social setting to re-connect with old friends, make new friends, enjoy stimulating conversation and share a delicious meal.
~2. Help those in need by raising awareness and funds for charities that work toward a peaceful existence for the people of their communities and the world.
~3. Blend together.
We connect our dinners to our charity work. The first Peace Meal was a benefit for Pray the Devil Back to Hell and Peace is Loud, which support the women’s peace movement in Liberia. So we shared authentic Liberian dishes and introduced their food traditions. Did you know that in Liberia, the table is always set? Thus, one is always ready to share a meal if visitors drop by. In order to prevent the plates from getting dusty, they are set on the table upside down and only turned over when it is time to eat.
When we made paper cranes of peace for the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, we created a traditional Japanese meal. And when we gathered children’s clothing donations for an orphanage in Thailand, we enjoyed a buffet of Thai dishes. We have also shared Sudanese, Ugandan and Indian dinners, as well as buffets of American comfort food, garden-to-table slow food and artful food creations.
By creating thematic dishes for these dinners, we enhance the connection to the people we are helping. As I prepare for our Peace Meals, I sometimes envision the women of other locales cooking the same dishes. I’ve come to understand the limits that some have in food choices when I read the many recipes that are often just various combinations of the same ingredients. But, I am impressed by how different each dish tastes, which sparks my own creativity in cooking.
Our Peace Meals also help me to be more aware of the food situation in other parts of the world and other parts of our own country. In turn, I have become more appreciative of my unlimited food supply. And, I am more aware of the importance of consuming locally grown and produced food in order to support local farmers and eat the freshest, cleanest food.
In February, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Stephanie and Hannah during the National Peace Academy Peacelearning Conference. While attending their PeaceMeal Project workshop, I experienced another aspect of food awareness and appreciation to bring back to my Peace Meal Project. Going forward, during each of our gatherings, I will ask participants to practice mindful eating. I expect that it will deepen our connection to each other and our food, and also to those in need whom we support through our Peace Meals.
Please check out The Peace Meal Project’s web site for more information and photos! http://thepeacemealproject.org/