Food has many uses in board meetings. No, erase the image of Bluto from the movie “Animal House” if that’s what popped into your mind. I am not referring to throwing food.
What I’m referring to are the positive values of food. First of all, when people are fed, they’re more likely to be friendly. Second, breaking bread together is a communal activity that allows some down time for chatting–either before the meeting, during a break, or at the end of the board meeting.
Additionally, by ordering and serving food from a local vendor in a community that the organization serves, the nonprofit can be supportive of the neighborhood while also acquainting board members with local flavor. Similarly, an organization that serves a particular country or population might want to celebrate and enjoy food of that culture.
Food can bring people together. Nazli Parvizi, NYC’s Commissioner, Community Affairs Unit, has used food to “help erase tensions among ethnic groups that were stirring community board meetings. She had local restaurants provide Indian pastries, South American coffees, Irish teas, bagels and cream cheese.”
Ah, you ask, who pays for the food? There are a variety of ways to deal with this so that the cost does not fall to the nonprofit. For example, a board member can host the board meeting at his or her place of business, you can pass the plate at meetings, rotate responsibility for providing or sponsoring food among board members over the course of the year, etc.
Whether you are trying to create a festive mood, foster collaboration, or merely help a new group of board members become better acquainted and feel appreciated, food matters!