Food has a way of bringing people together, whether it’s a group of friends gathered around a kitchen table or a quick catch-up over coffee and cake. It’s no different at Alpha. Every session starts with food because it’s a way to build community and get to know each other with casual conversation. There are so many ways to do food on Alpha from serving snacks to a full hot meal. Here are three practical ideas that groups and churches have used to make eating together a part of their Alpha every week.
1. Have a Potluck
For smaller groups, a potluck can be a fun and affordable idea. For example, the Alpha hosts might provide the main course (eg. lasagna) and then guests could be invited to bring sides (eg. salad). One group that ran Alpha in their home did a fondue every week where everyone brought different types of cheese and chocolate. The great thing about a potluck is it doesn’t require a lot of planning while ensuring there will be some sort of food to share together.
2. Recruit a Kitchen Team
Another option is to recruit a team that can make meals in the church kitchen. This works well for small or large groups and it can cut down on costs if food is purchased in bulk. The kitchen team is usually in charge of the grocery shopping, the meal prep, cooking, and clean-up. They can check with local restaurants as some will gladly donate food items each week. Some churches will freeze make-ahead meals like chili, soups, and lasagnes that can be warmed up the day of Alpha to save time.
3. Hire a Caterer
A third option is to hire a catering service to take the pressure off of the Alpha team to provide food each week. Catering can be expensive so to offset the costs, you could do suggested donations or better yet, provide the meal for free by asking other groups in the church to donate towards the cost.
Ultimately the food at Alpha can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. The main thing is to try to have some sort of food because eating together helps break the ice and pulls people together in a natural way. It sets the groundwork for friendship and hospitality and paves the way for deeper discussion throughout the course.