By Jaime Vinck, MC, LPC, NCC
Chief Operations Officer at Sierra Tucson
“All great change […] begins at the dinner table.” -Ronald Reagan
Eating together as a family creates an opportunity to bond and nourish not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well. As Sierra Tucson becomes our residents’ temporary home, and their process group becomes like family, we have chosen Friday evenings as a time for Family Dinner. All other resident activities are suspended during this hour, wherein the entire community gathers together to enjoy a well-deserved respite from the hustle and bustle of residential treatment.The Dining Room tables are set up for Family Dinner.
In preparation for the event, each process group prepares a “Family Gratitude” for the week. The groups also choose who will fulfill the following roles:
- Two people to gather the platters and “Serve”
- One person to read the “Family Gratitude”
- One person to refill the platters (“Replenisher”)
- Two people to clear the platters (“Clean-up Crew”)
Sierra Tucson staff also coordinates this dinner with the men’s and women’s groups that immediately follow by asking residents to reflect on how they will take the experience into their own families. We set up a staff table so that anyone who wants to be a part of the dinner can do so. Family Dinner at Sierra Tucson began in April 2016 and has transitioned from staff-led to resident-led.
Following are some insights from Scott Frazier, MS, manager of Sierra Tucson’s Eating Recovery Program:
- Residents learn how to engage in healthy conversation while eating mindfully.
- Residents model and encourage healthy eating.
- Residents feel safe when triggered by the food and report that it has helped them to become more comfortable in challenging themselves because they are surrounded by their support system.
- Family Dinner at Sierra Tucson offers a time to reflect and share talents, accomplishments, and values.
We have observed many benefits from the addition of this event. One resident reported that Family Dinner is her favorite time of the week because she never experienced a sit-down meal with her family in the past. “So this is what a family should feel like,” she said.
Another resident, who is in our Eating Recovery Program, stated, “For the first time in years, I stopped focusing on the size and appearance of my body, and started to enjoy being with friends while I ate.”