This post has been floating in my brain for a while now. More than a week. I wasn’t sure how to write it.
When I group religion, community and food together, I’m not talking about the Sacrament or Communion or what-have-you, though I could write a post on those.
Here, I’m referring to gathering as a congregation for parties, or dinners or refreshments or what-have-you.
Having food at events seems to have two main (and related) purposes: Encouraging people to come, and helping them get to know each other, which strengthens the sense of community. Food seems to be a common denominator.
This is all well and good, but what about people like me, who have Celiac Disease and food allergies? I just understand, now, that I can’t have anything at a church function. I eat before I go, I bring food with me, or I don’t go at all. If I can’t eat the food, and the activity itself isn’t appealing, why should I (or others in similar situations) attend? What can church leaders do to help?
Church leaders of any denomination can be sensitive to the needs of the people in question. I understand that it’s a pain. I really, really do. If you could get those people to come, though, wouldn’t it be worth it? (Note: Please don’t use food as a guilt trip, and respect those who have these issues if they’re not comfortable.) If possible, involve the people with food issues in the preparation of the food. That way, they can feel safe, and the people in charge will feel less intimidated and less afraid of making someone sick. Call in advance and ask if there are pre-packaged foods that are easy to find.
I don’t talk about it much here, but I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My parents’ former home teacher (who is now a bishop of a singles ward) brought us some homemade cranberry salsa as a Christmas neighbor gift. He also brought a box of Wheat Thins for the gluten-eaters, and a box of the Blue Diamond Almond Nut-Thins for the Celiac folks so all could enjoy the salsa (after scooping it out on individual plates). It was so amazingly thoughtful, and we gluten-free-ers were touched.
A small act of thoughtfulness like that is sometimes all it takes.