“The shared meal elevates eating from a mechanical process of fueling the body to a ritual of family and community, from the mere animal biology to an act of culture.”
― Michael Pollan,
Michael Pollan has got it right. Food is social. Meals should be a daily community experience that enrich our days and our lives. Here at University of Richmond, I can sit in the dining hall for hours chatting and hanging out with people. On average, I spend about 3-4 hours in Dhall every day because that’s where I get in my social time. Between work, classes, volunteering and studying I don’t always have a lot of time to just sit and chat with people so it makes sense to combine eating and socializing. Meals are how I most often choose to bond with new friends or reconnect with old ones. I have weekly lunches with my Delta Gamma family, weekly lunch with my hallmates from freshman year and breakfast every morning with my best friend. Dhall has big round tables that are perfect for chatting with anyone and everyone.We usually end up squishing 10+ people at a table meant for six. For all intents and purposes, the average meal at Dhall resembles a big family reunion. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are my three favorite parts of my day.
This entire week, I only went to Dhall once (and I brought my own food).I had most of my meals in my room because that’s where my food was and I knew I would be too tempted if I went to Dhall. By mid-week, I was feeling cloistered and out of the loop with all of my various friend groups. It was at this point that I realized how important eating with group of people whom I love actually is, especially for my mental/emotional health. It’s only been 36 hours since the end of my week on the SNAP challenge and I’ve already spent probably five or six hours in Dhall. I am incredibly blessed to be able to afford a meal plan with unlimited swipes into the dining hall because it means that I have almost unlimited access to food, and to unlimited amounts of it at that. Few people in the world can claim that luxury.
You often hear people in Dhall complaining that there is nothing to eat and I’m definitely guilty of this too. This week put that back into perspective for me. We have absolutely no right to say that there is nothing to eat because there is in fact pounds and pounds of food available to us. We may not like all the options and no, there’s nothing like a home-cooked meal but there is still food available to us. And that’s what we have to remember, there are people who would be happy to just have the food we would otherwise throw away. We, at the University of Richmond, are so incredibly lucky to have a world-class dining hall that provides so well for us.