Part 1: What is a Pleasant Mealtime Environment?

Remember a time when you enjoyed a particularly pleasant meal? Perhaps you were out to dinner at your favorite restaurant or you were enjoying a holiday meal at home with family and friends. What made that experience so enjoyable and memorable? Good food is just one part of a pleasant mealtime. Mealtimes you have enjoyed in the past probably included some or all of the following elements:

  • Fun and engaging conversation
  • A home-like feeling–not institutional or regimented
  • A relaxed pace with plenty of food
  • A variety of foods and a chance to try new dishes
  • Familiar favorite foods
  • The presence of family and friends
  • An opportunity to share in preparing and serving the food

All of these elements are part of the mealtime environment. Think about your own experiences and how you might apply some of the elements of a pleasant mealtime environment in your home or center. One important factor that influences the mealtime environment is the style of meal service.