A tried and true way to penetrate a community at the grass roots level is through events that include food. The history of food has helped shape culture in the U.S. Have you ever wondered what the food you eat everyday can tell you about where you come from? Have you ever wondered why people from different parts of the world eat different types of food? Do you ever ask yourself why certain foods or culinary traditions are so important to your culture? There is more of a connection between food and culture than you may think.

On an individual level, we grow up eating the food of our cultures. It becomes a part of who each of us are. Many of us associate food from our childhood with warm feelings and good memories and it ties us to our families, holding a special and personal value for us. Food from our family often becomes the comfort food we seek as adults in times of frustration and stress.  

On a larger scale, food is an important part of culture. Traditional cuisine is passed down from one generation to the next. It also operates as an expression of cultural identity. Immigrants bring the food of their countries with them wherever they go and cooking traditional food is a way of preserving their culture when they move to new places.

The cuisine of the United States reflects its history. The European colonization of the Americas yielded the introduction of European ingredients and cooking styles to the U.S. Later in the 20th century, the influx of immigrants from many foreign nations developed a rich diversity in food preparation throughout the country.

As the world becomes more globalized, it is easier to access cuisines from different cultures.  We should embrace our heritage through our culture’s food but we should also become more informed about other cultures by trying their foods. It’s important to remember that each dish has a special place in the culture to which it belongs, and is special to those who prepare it. Food is a portal into culture, and it should be treated as such.

SWIM’s Backyard Barbecue is based on the need for Americans from all backgrounds to come together with food as the centerpiece. Food for many cultures is a way to show love. SWIM will schedule monthly events providing food and information on services available in the communities we serve. The events will be done barbeque style and held in outdoor public venues such parks, college campuses, churches, etc. These backyard barbeques are called SWIM MEETS and will represent foods from different cultures in the U.S. from soul food to Americana.

Additionally, these events will include free music as well as other organizations and companies that serve the community. The SWIM volunteer staff will also administer the ACEs questionnaire, sign up families for Resilience screenings in their area and collect demographic data. SWIM MEETS, as with all SWIM events, will not be scheduled until the shelter-in-place orders are lifted as a result of Covid-19 concerns.


Through the gracious generosity of Cristina and Michael Strunk, SWIM is the recipient of three lots located within the beautiful gated community of Hidden Valley Lake, California. SWIM has access to a golf course, beaches, community center, restaurant and of course lake and park activities.

SWIM has plans to conduct SWIM MEETS at this location as part of our community development in Lake County. As mentioned in this section earlier, SWIM MEETS are events for the community that include food, music, and services available in their individual communities.  These events are a way for SWIM to get to know the community and for the community to get to know us.  To find out more about the community of Hidden Valley Lake, please visit the association’s website at

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