Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to reflect and celebrate the wonderful cultural differences that bring diversity to our nation.
Josephine Thomason, M.S., RDN, LDN, FNLP, (She/Her)
National Advisor, Whole Child Health Alliance for a Healthier Generation
Cultural differences may include the spoken language, traditional clothing, and the types of foods consumed. Cultural foods — also known as traditional foods — represent the traditions, beliefs, and practices of a geographic region, ethnic group, religious body, or cross-cultural community.
These traditional foods are an important part of a culture and become an expression of an individual’s cultural identity. As we spend the next month observing the uniqueness and diversity of Hispanic/Latinx communities, here are a few ways you can use mealtimes to celebrate the relationship between food and culture.
Share a meal with loved ones
Spending quality mealtime time with loved ones can bring joy, foster engaging conversations, build family bonds, and create cherished moments together. It’s a time to unplug from technology and allow for honest conversations about our day. Preparing dinner together is also a great way to get kids involved in meal preparation and try new foods. Try these quick and easy recipes from Chef Grace Ramirez to build connections with your loved ones this Hispanic Heritage Month.
Connect with friends and coworkers
The power of a shared meal can also take place outside the home. Connecting with friends or coworkers helps us build new social connections while learning about other cultures, traditions, and lived experiences. Check out this quick video to learn about the health benefits of connecting through meals with your friends.
Cookbook project with the family
Gathering family recipes for a cookbook is a great way to connect with loved ones. A cookbook can honor family traditions by preserving cultural recipes and passing them down to the next generation. Collecting recipes together can also foster meaningful conversations while increasing feelings of happiness and empathy – which is great for our social-emotional health. As you gather recipes with your loved ones, take a look at these conversation starters to encourage storytelling and connection.
Schools can participate, too!
Schools can play a pivotal role in supporting the cultural identities of their students by providing foods that are representative of the ethnic diversity of their communities.
Schools can celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by offering authentic traditional foods from Latinx countries through the school meal program or events. These are great learning opportunities for students as they explore the similarities and differences across cultures and celebrate what makes each culture unique. Check out this short webinar on tips and tools for hosting a successful cooking event at your school.
As you consider the ways you can honor traditions through food, visit HealthierGeneration.org for more ideas and resources to support your celebrations this Hispanic Heritage Month.