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Eating together is important family time; it validates the importance in family and offers good socialization, which is very important.

- Gale Mills

In this session, participants explore food and families. The meaning of food in the lives of families, with inherent joys and tensions, is realized through discussion, drama, and art.

Food can be a very sensitive subject in the lives of families. This can be particularly true when youth have strong preferences that conflict with the adults. Additionally, eating is often contentious for youth with eating disorders. Be sensitive to participants' cues; respect their willingness to talk or to simply listen.

An alternate activity in this session involves writing poetry. Leader Resource 1, Writing Poetry with Youth, has useful information on working with youth and poetry.

Some questions for reflection in this session provide an opportunity for participants to reflect upon the ways culture manifest itself in families. You will need to be sensitive to how these discussions are handled. Watch for answers that might indicate stereotyping, including gender stereotyping. Your response to any such remarks should not be defensive or accusatory, but should lovingly guide participants to broaden their perspective. If you believe such discussions might not be handled by the group in a mature way or if you are uncomfortable leading such discussions simply omit an references to ethnic or racial identities.


Participants will:

  • Broaden and deepen their understandings and definitions of families, including the roles and function of families
  • Explore the meaning of healthy families in a diversity of forms
  • Build and foster the ability to understand multiple perspectives
  • Understand and appreciate the emotional, affective, and spiritual dimensions of family
  • Grow and deepen their naturally compassionate souls

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Explore the meaning and role of food in families
  • Explore differences and similarities between families
  • Create representations of families through different artistic media
  • Learn more deeply about how looking at families through only one-lens— food—affects what we can learn about families and the representation of them

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