When I look back at 2017, I know that it will be far from a golden year. There will be no rose-colored glasses or waxing poetic over these first few months. But, what I hope I will see is how life found ways to be vibrant and hopeful in different ways. Something that is particularly apropos for a restaurant issue is how food can bring us together for safety, security, meaningful conversations, and just sitting in silence…chewing. We are very familiar with going to eat at fundraising dinners where the food is similar, the tables are sold, and the speakers are supposed to rile us up to make change and give money. But how about inviting people over for a potluck, having quiet conversation while passing dishes, and putting out jars for free-will offerings for various organizations?
That’s what I’ve found to be feeding my soul these first months of 2017. I’m feeling fortified. And that is the point of hosting or attending a Fortify potluck: it’s about feeding the greater good. The concept came from my friend, Joy Summers, who’s written for us over the years and is currently found at Eater Twin Cities, Minnesota Monthly, and various television shows like Twin Cities Live. As an answer to feeling more helpless than hopeful, she came up with the idea of people inviting friends and coworkers and family members over for a potluck dinner. While her house has the capacity for about 20 people, she hosted at least double that with a whole lot of kids running and screaming and having a good time. When it’s potluck, nobody foots the bill of providing food for all, yet there is always more than enough food to go around. There was a pile of nonperishables to take to the food shelf and three jars of money to give to different nonprofits that could use some help right about now.
So, my part in this will be attending as many Fortify potlucks as I can, digging deep into the couch cushions and cupboards for money to donate and food to send to the food shelf, and hosting one myself. Last year for my birthday, I held a birthday dinner at a Dining Out for Life restaurant, since my big day usually falls on or near that big day. But this year, I’m hosting my big 4-0 at my place and it’ll be potluck…with jars for contributing money for various nonprofits as well as a long table where we can all gather, find hope, and be fortified.
I’ll still be Dining Out for Life as I do every year. I hope to see you out there as well. Find each other, gather around food, help those who need it, and realize that we all might need it, too, in some way, shape, or form.
With you and with thanks,