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The Village Supper

A dinner once a month that brings the community around the table for conversation and workshops on specific family questions. The village supper brings together the community and would rotate from various community centered spaces depending on the location (schools, churches, libraries or child care centers).

Photo of Catherine Collins
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Community members would arrive, help to prepare the food, talk with each other while kids could play and socialize.  Following the meal parents would partiticpate in a hands-on workshop.  

Workshops would draw on the expertise of the community and would be facilitated by a specific topic expert.  The workshops would be based off of the needs and interests of the participants as well as the local expertise.  

Some potential subjects: 
Parenting Style
Setting Boundaries
Screen Time 

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

Anyone! Parents, elders, kids and child care providers. Continuing with the adage "it takes a village" we think that it's important to have a community of people working together to raise our children. The general concept for this idea could be adapted and exist in a variety of locations! Here is what we think it could look like in Addison County: Potential locations Addison County for the meals and workshops: Parent Child Center Otter Creek Center Project Independence Middlebury Community Care Coalition Audience: Parents Children In home child care providers Child Care Providers at local centers Topics: TBD

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

1. Reach out to child care providers and parents to see if they would be interested in participating and what type of discussions they would like to have. 2. Connect with the existing community supper that happens each Friday to see if they could host a specific dinner at focuses on parenting, to leverage their existing kitchen and facilities. 3. Speak with local grocery stores and farmers to see if they could donate food. 4. Talk to the Parent Child Center to see if we could use their vans to help with transportation limitations.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

Are there existing models like this in other topic areas that we could learn from?

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am ready and interested in testing this idea and making it real in my community.


Join the conversation:

Photo of DiemTien Le

What a great, efficient idea!
I'd encourage you to look at the QC Family Tree, which hosts neighborhood dinners twice a month.

Photo of Catherine Collins

Thanks for sharing this DiemTien!

Photo of Natasha Abadilla

Hi Catherine and team,

I think your idea is off to a great start! I've always been a big fan of programs that use food and meals as a way to enter a community in order to educate. You may want to consider the following questions:

- What size will each of your groups be? What will be the ratio of community members-to-program facilitators?
- Will you also include culturally-specific meals? If so, how will you reach out to community partners to find out about which meals are very familiar to members of a specific community?
- While the meal is being prepared, could you also possibly involve children? Cooking together is a great way to encourage parent-child interaction!

If you have the time, I'd love to hear your comments on my team's idea, under the Parenting Information mission: Maternal and Under 5 Health and Education Clinics. ( Any ideas you may have to help us improve our idea would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Photo of Dana Anderson

Thanks for your questions, Natasha. Here are some thoughts....
Group size- this would be inclusive of as many people possible, additional space would be sought as needed! The more the merrier, and hopefully this connectedness of community members would spread beyond just the meals.
Ratio of community members to facilitators - there would need to be facilitators to help with food, child care, and the program topic. This would likely become a narrow ratio. Keeping the content reactive to our societal needs/interests would entice both program facilitators and parents to attend. The early childhood world involves so many domains- health, mental health, education, criminal justice, politics, funders, anyone who comes in contact with a family has an impact on the early childhood years, therefore, it may be easy to recruit and maintain a ratio of less than 4:1.
Meals- outreach would be done through the recruitment/advertising of the meals. Families would be encouraged to submit ideas, thoughts, requests. We all know that if people are involved with the planning process, their buy-in is much greater- hence return participants.
Great idea on cooking with children. There could be a facilitator to involve kids in the cooking. Another great idea for a touch would be "Healthy Cooking"- this would be a hands in cooking class, and all participants would go home with groceries and recipe to re-create the meal at home.