ACO breaks bread, discusses ‘you are what you eat’

Despite the chilly autumn weather and dark sky, the Ford Chapel was brightly lit on the evening of Oct. 4. Allegheny Christian Outreach had congregated inside for their second meet-up of the semester, in which they dissected the topic of “You Are How You Eat.”

The group started off the meeting with brief introductions. As an ice breaker, they played a game called “Happy Birthday.” It was loosely related to musical chairs, as the goal was for someone to stand up and state something about themselves. Whoever could agree with that statement — spanning from “I like bread” to “I wear glasses” — had to stand up and switch seats. The person who could not find a seat had to ask the next question. To stir chaos, “Happy Birthday” was shouted to arouse everyone from their seats to switch, thus concluding the game.

Everyone then returned to their original seats. The discussion began with a recap of the former meeting, in which the topic of eating habits had just been unleashed. 

Two of ACO’s leaders, Nhu Le Nguyen, ’24, and Rebecca Caldwell, ’24, opened up a discussion which was focused on why we should eat together. The conversation was focused on Allegheny College students, and how it isoften difficult to find time to eat with others due to schedule clashes and a lack of free time. Thanks to societal conditioning, they continued, students tend to focus on work and think of meals as an after-thought, leading to many meals alone or rushed.

“By eating alone, you’re blocking off the communal aspect of life and building relationships,” Nhu explained. 

The topic also tied in with their religious beliefs. 

“Cooking a meal, sharing food, telling stories, praying together — all of these values have a lot of insight into the gospel,” Caldwell said. “It’s a way to insert the gospel into daily life.”

The chat also brought up points about how, as great as it is to eat with the same friends and family, it isalso important to meet new people, even if that can seem nerve-racking. 

“I usually see somebody who is constantly eating dinner alone, and I don’t know — I feel like what I’m perceiving from that action is that they want to have their alone time, so I’m always debating whether they want to talk and eat together or not,” Nguyen said.

For more personalized check-up discussions, everyone broke out into smaller groups of three or four. The questions were generally focused on what their eating habits were and how they planned to improve it in the weeks to come. 

“My eating habits are not the best,” Simon Jones, ’24, said. “I don’t always eat most of the meals during the day. I’ll sometimes skip — I don’t skip supper, though. I usually like to do homework during my meals because there’s, like, tons of it.”

Although some club members expressed their difficulty in finding time to eat with others, that did not take away from how much it meant to them. 

“Eating together is a way for me to express love and care to others,” said ACO Adviser Mollie Little “I love to offer my energy and time to prepare something for people. Over a meal, it’s just time for us to converse and listen — to hear about someone’s day, to dig in with them, to see how they’re really doing, and that time together is love.”

Following the discussion, everyone gathered around the piano to conclude with hymns and a prayer. The chapel was alive with song, and they sang “Come As You Are” by David Crowder, “We Believe” by Newsboys, and “Great Are You, Lord” by Sons and Daughters.

“I learned a lot more about my own habits and how I implement my own, like, schedule throughout my week,” Caldwell said after the meeting. “It’s just nice to reflect on it to see where I can make improvements and insert myself in the gospel.”

When the closing prayer concluded, the leaders brought out some fresh bread with jam and butter for those who wanted to stay and socialize. The club members took the time to de-stress and chat amongst themselves, and eventually everyone headed home, concluding the meeting.

“I got a lot of things from the meetings,” said Evelyn Griffith, ’24, “but it’s also just about being in this community of Christians and worshiping our faith in such a positive and wonderful atmosphere. It’s amongst people who want to see you grow in your faith and see you improve in the things you struggle with. And we do a lot about learning more about God and His word, but also make sure that people feel supported in their faith. It’s really important to have that community.”

ACO meets each Sunday at Ford Chapel at 1 p.m. for a meal.