Eating at Meetings

 

Holly Hammond shares her tips for good food and good meetings – share yours too!

There’s a lot of things that can make a meeting go well – good snacks are one of them.

I’ve been to many cheerless activist meetings which have left me with a grumbling stomach. It’s that much harder to concentrate when you’re hungry.

It also makes it a choice – attend a meeting or get some food. The two don’t need to be mutually exclusive. These days I’m pretty good at carrying my own emergency provisions (muesli bars, nuts, fruit) but it’s even better when food is a part of the gathering.

At our regular Melbourne Campaigners’ Network events I always provides snacks. It’s appropriate as our gatherings run 6-8pm when many people are eating dinner. I also hope it sets a relaxed and hospitable vibe. I try to make the food compatible with different dietary requirements so it’s inclusive.

MCN snacks usually involve some combination of the following.

Savoury snacks:

vegies

  • Fresh vegies – chopped up carrot, capsicum (bell pepper) and cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are especially easy as there’s no preparation involved.
  • Rice crackers
  • Dip – often hummous (vegan, gluten free)
  • Mixed nuts (good source of protein)

Something sweet, like:

  • Chocolate covered popcorn (vegan, gluten free). I bought a bag but you can make your own.
  • Biscuits eg Tiny Teddies or wafer biscuits. These break the dietary restrictions but tend to be well received.
  • Strawberries – easy to prepare and eat but often expensive.

When I’ve had more time on my hands:

  • cakesHippy nibbles (vegan, gluten free). That’s my name for truffle type things made of dried fruit and nuts. These give you something sweet without the difficulties of baking without gluten and eggs.
  • Miniature muffins or cupcakes. Cake in general is awesome but mini-cakes mean you don’t have to cut stuff up, have plates, carry a knife around etc. This looks like a good vegan and gluten free chocolate cupcake recipe.

 

It doesn’t need to take much time and preparation to provide food at meetings – but it does show care. Bringing food along is a role that can be shared around in a group.

What do you like to eat at meetings? Share your suggestions below.

Check out these other ingredients for Better Activist Meetings on the Plan to Win blog.

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3 Responses to “Eating at Meetings”

  1. Chocolate and unsalted nuts or dried fruit. Or hot potato chips. Or just some cut fruit.
    A friend reckons if you have potato chips and fruit then you cover all diets and tastes.

  2. Having been to MCN I can attest to the deliciousness of the snacks- they are definitely an improvement on the usual biscuits. I also enjoy the act of sharing the food in the small discussion groups- I think it frames the space as quite informal and relaxed.

    I believe its really important for people to consider the effect of snacks on the group dynamic- certain foods have fairly immediate benefits for improving alertness, such as apples with the skin on, and can help us run a more efficient meetings.
    I would go as far to suggest sugar and other stimulants like caffeine could have negative effects on group dynamics as they can affect individual anxiety levels quite significantly.

    For me, its about being well informed about how certain food/drinks affect our bodies including our mental alertness and mood. Of course its also good to promote healthy eating practices that help us sustain activism over the long term!

  3. I have mixed feelings about this post! I think it’s important to respect people’s food needs through meetings…nobody should ever have to leave in hunger, and breaks and nibbles are an important part of this.

    On the other hand, we should resist the temptation to eat /during/ the meeting itself. It can be noisy and distracting and undermine the functioning of the group.

    Your best option? Depending on the time of day, something to eat beforehand, a shared meal afterwards – or a 15 minute break in the middle. And I am a big fan of hommus and dip!