The majority of Suppers events take place within an hour of our hub, Princeton, New Jersey. Our network includes about 50 facilitators and mentors, and several hundred members -- the people who come into our homes and experience health transformations through the simple acts of preparing and eating delicious food together.
Our work is “placed based,” meaning that everything we do takes place in a physical location, either someone’s home or a small public venue.
If you're not located in this general area, we won’t be able to help you start an official Suppers meeting yet, but we can give you a few ideas about starting an "intentional community" around healthy new behaviors. Here are some thoughts:
1. Watch our Introduction to Suppers video and see how the program works. Since Suppers has a network in New Jersey, we offer lots of different kinds of meetings, some oriented to prevention and cooking skills, some geared toward a particular diagnosis and others centered around a specific style of eating (like vegan, paleo, macrobiotic). The idea is that the most effective way to help people do necessary but challenging behavior change is to start wherever they are. If you’re just starting your healthy community, go with whatever you’re most passionate about: a population you want to serve, a way of eating that has transformed your life, or skills you want to share with others.
2. Join our mailing list. We send out newsletters periodically, with member stories, recipes to share, reports on our activities, and best practices from facilitators. You might pick up some good ideas.
3. Get on Dor's facilitator list. When we have materials to share, or we start distance learning, you'll hear about it.
4. Get a copy of our book, Logical Miracles. It's full of stories of transformation based on simple (though not easy) behavior change.
5. Follow us on Facebook.
6. Recruit the people who just love to cook. And love teaching what they know. It’s very scary how little most younger people know about food preparation, considering how much is at stake. Most of our facilitators are in their 50s and 60s. There is probably someone on your block who harbors extremely important skills that must be transmitted before it’s too late.
7. Just start cooking with people.
8. Use real whole food, avoid processed food, and don't sweat the details.
Now, for some information on facilitator training. It takes place in Princeton, New Jersey. Here are your current options:
1. If you can get to Princeton for the beginner five-hour facilitator training and periodic training events, you can start your own official Suppers and be listed on our calendar. The training is free to people who start meetings. Registration is $150, but you have the choice of having it returned after your third meeting or leaving it with us as a tax-deductible contribution.
2. You can come to Princeton for the initial training and start a meeting, but it won’t be supported by continued training events or calendar listings on our site, which is focused on New Jersey and nearby. The registration fee is $150. We’ll let you know if and when support materials for distance learning become available.
3. You can use ideas from our web site and just start cooking with people. We’ll let you know if and when distance learning becomes an option.
Finally, an exercise for you: Imagine your dream meeting. If you had a magic wand and could conjure up the healthy community of your dreams, what would it be like? See if pondering these questions helps you form your thoughts. Sorry, it’s not interactive yet, get out a notebook.
1. What purpose or population would you serve?
2. What activities would bond your group?
- Preparing and eating whole food together
- Meditating together
- Exercising together
- A mutual interest in ___________________
3. What expectations would you have of participants?
- RSVP'ing and coming on time
- Divvying up the tasks of making the meeting (like shopping, setting up, cooking, teaching a lesson/leading the discussion, cleaning up)
- Good hygiene
- What else? ___________________
4. Name two people who care like you care about this project.
5. How would you orient food preparation?
- Prevention, cooking healthy delicious food as a social experience
- A style of eating (vegan, paleo, etc.)
- Serving people with a specific diagnosis or addiction
6. How would you cover costs?
- Have everyone chip in for groceries?
- Charge a fee? (This makes it a home business, though, with insurance implications.)
7. Does your insurance cover social gatherings in your home?
8. Would you follow any specific dietary guidelines, e.g. gluten free, sugar free, vegan, low carb, paleo, etc?
9. What books, web sites, or other resources are you excited to share with your group?
10. Where would you promote it?
- Just to friends
- Free calendar listings
- Paper fliers at the library, gym or whole food store
- Email list
11. What would be the ideal number of meetings?
- 4 per year
- Once a month
- Once a week
12. Where would you source the groceries?
- My regular grocery store
- Local farm markets
- Local farmers
- Organic food store
13. What stops you from inviting two friends, right now –- this instant -– to discuss this?
- Too scared
- Don’t know how to cook yet
- No time
- No kitchen
14. Name one thing you could do today to bring you one step closer to creating your dream community: ___________________
Send me an email and ask to be brought into the discussion as we do conferences calls and Skype meetings. If there is interest, I’ll create a forum for troubleshooting start ups.