Community Engagement
A Recipe for Bringing Communities Together
Chris Weiser
Chris Weiser
Vice President,
Culinary, Sodexo North America

Why do so many of our favorite memories involve sharing a meal or a snack or a drink with family and friends? How is it that so many special occasions are punctuated with love, kinship, hospitality…and a great meal? Why do we feel the adrenaline rush when we try something new and exciting and delicious….and we love it so much we take a photograph to share with our kindred spirits across the world?

Simply put, because food is life…and life itself should be about quality for everyone, everywhere. Quality can manifest itself in many ways…it can be taking better care of yourself –or helping others take better care of themselves. It may also mean developing yourself…learning a new skill or a different way to look at things…or perhaps helping someone else develop those skills….and sharing your passion and expertise with them.

Quality might also be found in recognizing and nurturing the important people in your life….or recognizing and nurturing those that you don’t know at all. Food and the sharing thereof can be a driver for all of these things.

In fact, food can create an empowering and powerful sense of community and belonging…and with the challenges in today’s world; what better way to protect what’s important to us than by protecting our time around the table…wherever and whenever we can and insuring that all members of the community are food secure and get to share in creating these memories and enhancing their quality of life. But how can we do it?

It takes a unique recipe made with equal measures of individual efforts, the non-profit community, local government and corporate partners. When combined, the result blends to create a new dish where knowledge, passion and expertise are balanced by resources both human and monetary. The danger of omitting any of these ingredients is an unbalanced result. Passion and intent without resources are ineffective.  Using resources in an unfocused manner is inefficient. With the right stakeholder blend; resources can be directed in an intelligent manner and where the most impact can be gained. Strong efforts conducted in this manner have proven to create the right conditions for long term change in more than one community…so why doesn’t every community function this way?

It’s a great question and an even better opportunity. Perhaps it’s about a lack of a connection between one group and another or perhaps there are perceptions that agendas and missions are mutually exclusive. Whatever the case; it won’t get better until more individuals, agencies and corporations take the first step and make it known that they are ready, willing and able to have a conversation about change. In this case, too many cooks most certainly won’t spoil the broth. In fact…they may just re-write the entire menu.

What is your best “food” memory?


Chris Weiser is the Vice President of Culinary Solutions for Sodexo North America.  Chef Weiser is passionate about increasing awareness on the important role food plays in empowering people, nurturing families and bringing communities together. Recently he hosted a panel discussion on the importance of engaging communities at the 2015 Better Tomorrow Summit in Atlanta.    



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