While nushing on Samantha’s delicious vegetable quiches at yesterday’s “Social Lunch,” I was contemplating how fussy and eater I was as a child, enjoying only potatoes and peas and maybe carrots with my meat, and only with much encouragement from my doting mom. It seems an unlikely outcome that I would become a reasonably health-conscious, vegetarian adult today.
Our Social Lunch has been a feature in our school since the beginning, when one of our three families ran a roster of one catered meal each week. Today we have Samantha Kearns, an integral member of Thandi and Bevan’s team in their family food business Timothy & Clover, offering us a carefully designed menu each week.
The intention is multifold. We want to introduce to the children new tastes within a general guidelines of common-sense wholesomeness, that nevertheless achieves general satisfaction from the children. I believe Samantha has been extremely successful in striking that magical balance. Many children offer rave reviews of the food, and yesterday the salad was finished completely.
The intention of our Social Lunch is also broader than food. We are blessed with the willing support from the older children to help serve the food, we help each other maintain etiquette such as washing up afterwards, and generally we enjoy the opportunity to socialise with each other and with teachers in a friendly meal atmosphere: social lunch is a vital aspect of our particularly healthy social life in our school.
Moreover, the meal also offers us an opportunity to create healthy weekly ritual of multicultural awarenes, and this in turn further builds a sense of community between us. The inspiring Burkino Faso author Malidoma Somé emphasises the power that ritual has in achieving a “sacred space” in a community. In our ongoing project of aspiring to a reflexively healthy social atmosphere at Kairos, in addition to the other rituals such as a choral song, lighting a candle and a “check-in” to begin each day, we also recite a song, poem or prayer from a different religion or cultural tradition to begin the Social Lunch meal. While we do not want to press any belief on any child, we do want to emphasise the value of reverence for life and for each other, and the ritualised events such as Social Lunch are important items in our weekly timetable.
At my primary school in the 70’s I regularly spent my pocket money on sugary sweets and drinks at our tuckshop — I’m so glad we have a school that extends our curriculum into what our children put into their bodies.