The Genwell Project: Feeding People with a Warm Canadian Welcome

Someone once said, “There is something profoundly satisfying about sharing a meal.  Eating together, breaking bread together, is one of the oldest and most fundamentally unifying of human experiences”.

No wiser words have ever been spoken.

From the beginning of time, “breaking bread” was more than filling the bellies of those who were seated around a table.  It was about sharing experiences and making sure everyone who was part of the meal was also part of the conversation.

When I was young, my dad started a small construction company where he would drive around Ontario and do small repairs at gas stations. That meant that he was home very late most nights. What that also meant is our family dinners were also late most nights.

You see, back in the day, it was unheard of to eat your dinner alone.  If someone was going to be home late, you had a hearty snack after school and you waited for everyone to be present before you had your dinner.

And guess what?  Nobody complained because it was just how things were. You waited and, when everyone was home, you sat together and shared a meal as well as stories.  Nobody went to bed without knowing who had a bad day (or good), who got an A+ on their math test (or not), who got teased (and who didn’t)…

Back in the day, not too much went unnoticed because we all talked about our day at the dinner table.

But, in today’s hurried world, we seem to have lost that ritual.  Somehow, we feel the need to do everything “now” and most people find it “too difficult” to wait…for anything.

Imagine how much we don’t know about each other because we just can’t be bothered to sit together and share a meal.

But we can change that…starting today. And maybe, it might just come down to making a really great banana bread.

Let me explain…

A while back, I met a lovely man named Pete who runs the Genwell Project, a human connection movement whose mission is to make the world a happier and healthier place by reminding people about the importance of face to face social connection and inspiring them to take action. I met him at a dinner hosted by my friend Massimo Bruno who runs his hugely popular supper club, aptly named Massimo Bruno’s Supper Club.  We talked about becoming ambassadors for the movement and somehow, coming together to help through food.

When it was decided that we would host a meal for a group of deserving individuals, I knew my contribution would be “sweet”…literally.

Pete gathered 35 new Canadians and brought them to Massimo’s restaurant to make a face to face connection with all of us and with each other. Massimo lovingly gathered all of the ingredients to prepare an amazing Italian meal and we all rolled up our sleeves to pitch in!

We made grilled zucchini and Massimo’s oh-so-famous foccacia…

We made baked ricotta in homemade tomato sauce…

Our guests were served two kinds of pasta…a traditional dish of pasta with lentils..

…and a simple tomato pasta dish.

They had tender lemon chicken…

…baked cod

…and so much more.  I made banana bread to have as dessert after our meal and sent each person home with a “sweet” package (homemade carrot cake) to share with another family member or friend who may not have had the opportunity to join us that day.  We wanted our guests to know that, as Canadians, we are kind and good-hearted and it is Canadian fashion to make people feel inclusive and share with others.

The children all had toys to play with and after the meal there was singing, speeches from thankful guests, some happy tears and even an impromptu birthday celebration. 

By hosting this special meal, we not only got all of the volunteers connected, but we were able to take the GenWell Project to the next level by reaching out and getting connected with so many others. We were able to build bridges and generate empathy and compassion for people we had never met. The day was filled with conversation, delicious food and desserts and best of all, connections with our guests that will continue on for a very long time.

  

We hope that when you think about who you are going to get connected with on the next GenWell weekend (May 3-5), if all is well in your world, maybe you will take a minute to think about who might benefit from your outreach, your time and your engagement. It might be a family member, friend, neighbour or colleague. We can all benefit from sharing our time face to face.

So, pick up the phone.  Call a friend.  Knock on your neighbour’s door. Let them know you would love to get to know them.  Let them know that, for no reason other than spreading the love, you would love to break bread together.

Let us know what you did on the GenWell weekend.  We think you will get more from sharing than your guests will.

Big love,

Suzie

 

Note:  Thank you to the lovely Andrea and Emily for capturing all of the love that day!

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