"The chicken was crisp, lightly spiced and tender. The broccoli was slightly al dente, maybe tossed with a bit of garlic and definitely with a smidge of searing to it which gave it a deeper flavour. The potatoes were seasoned, plump and perfectly cooked."
This description of a mouthwatering meal comes to us from a community member at the Dr. Peter Centre, a Vancouver organization that serves people with HIV and others with complex social and medical needs. Many people in their community face addiction, homelessness and isolation.
The author shows us the power that a good meal and a little kindness can have in changing lives:
"As I ate that meal, I slowed down. I didn't want it to end, and I savoured every bite. The flavors were exploding in my mouth. That grounded me!! It got me out of my head (where my addiction lives) and into my body. It also set off a chain of events.
The meal slowed me down enough to decide to go to a recovery meeting rather than straight home to use more drugs. At that meeting I felt more connected. I was still triggered to use so I went home to do just that.
That's when I saw the to-go-container on my counter. While I was eating, you called me over, Raj, and invited me to take a meal to go. So, I chose to eat that amazing dinner all over again. Once more, it grounded me, this time enough to realize how tired I was.
That was the last thing I did that night. I went to bed without using anymore drugs.
How do I remember this meal and that evening with so much detail?
I do because I've never used drugs since I ate that meal.
A whole lot of things had to be in place for me to decide to quit. I believe that meal played its part. Food as harm reduction. I know Dr. Peter Centre knows all about that.
Thanks Raj, for the delicious meal. It grounded me when I needed it the most.
As the author says, a lot of things needed to be in place for him to quit. Not every hot meal ends an addiction, and not every person who uses drugs is ready to put them down forever.
But there's scientific evidence now to back something we've always known - supportive community is essential to good health, whether it's pain relief, fighting cancer, or recovering from addiction. And nothing brings community together like a hot meal.
Some days, food can change a life. Other days, it just gets someone through to tomorrow. But every tomorrow has a chance to be the day a life changes.
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