If there’s one thing I learned about building community during my time at Northwestern, it’s that the best way to bring people together is food.
Laugh if you will, but allow me to explain.
When I was a Resident Assistant in Stegenga and planning events for my wing, I could always count on a good crowd—if I had food. Food has an incredible power to rally the troops and send them running to your event. I tried to make every event have some kind of food element. Cutting out paper snowflakes to decorate the hall for winter? Hot chocolate and marshmallows is a must! Hosting a movie night? Fill as many bowls as you can with good ol’ popcorn (and m&ms are strongly recommended).
Not only will the food bring and feed the masses, it also starts some great conversation. One night as part of our weekly D-Group Bible study, our leader brought ingredients to make mug cakes, and the group went from being on the quieter side to chatting lively as they made their mugged snacks. Recently after a chapel service, the Student Government Association handed out doughnuts and that kept my friend and I talking and spending time together as we ate our sugary goodness. One of my friends suggested making apple nachos, so one night my roommate and I rounded up the ingredients and spent time together in the kitchen, sharing some good conversation instead of just sitting around watching Netflix.
Starting college and being in a new place can be a bit daunting, but after you get settled into your dorm and want to start branching out, open your door, put out some food, sit back, and wait for the people to come. It doesn’t have to be fancy, either. Chips and queso dip, fresh fruit, chocolate; anything works! After all, like any college student will tell you, free food is the best kind of food.