Isolation and loneliness can have severe negative impacts on overall health and wellbeing and there is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates that social isolation is as strong a predictor of mortality as other well known risk factors such as smoking, obesity and high blood pressure. This is of great concern when 18 per cent of Edmontonians report feeling socially isolated from their community. 
One of the many ways in which people may find a sense of belonging in the community is through sharing meals with others. If you enjoy connecting with friends and family over food it may not surprise you that research suggests that those who eat socially more often feel happier and are more satisfied with life, are more trusting of others, and are more engaged with their local communities. 
In order to encourage more Edmontonians to gather over food and build connections, the “Hello, How Are You?” campaign, fresh: Edmonton’s Food & Urban Agriculture Strategy and River City Events created Hello, Let’s Eat!
With this pilot project, Edmontonians who wish to host a community-style meal are now able to borrow a hosting kit with place settings and food service equipment at no cost, supplied by River City Events. It’s our goal with this new project to help bring people together, through the simple concept of sharing food, a meal, and a conversation.
Each kit will contain enough supplies for a group of 24 and will contain:
- Mugs, Cups
- Serving spoons
- Placemats with conversation starters and let’s eat in multiple languages
It is our hope that by providing this resource, Edmontonians will be encouraged to share meals with neighbours, get to know one another, and learn more about what connects us.
If you would like to host a community-style meal in your neighbourhood, visit the Hello Let’s Eat! web page to fill out an application form.
Our goal is to help support 15-20 community-style meals in 2018. We hope that you will consider helping us in reaching this goal!
1 Edmonton Community Foundation, Vital Signs Report (2017).
2 Dunbar, R.I.M. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology (2017) 3: 198
Written by Chelsey Anseeuw, Social Planner, City of Edmonton