Hosting An International Food Day at Your Senior Center

Senior centers have been long thought of as the focal point of communities across the country for aging adults. They provide a means for seniors to explore, have fun, learn, connect, and engage in life to the fullest. Though the health and fitness programs and senior assistance services are essential, it is often the fun activities and socialization that keeps elderly members of the community coming back. 

It’s essential to have an array of activities that meet the varying abilities and tastes of the center’s residents or visitors. While there are many activities and events to consider, hosting an International Food Day at Your Senior Center is an idea the seniors, staff, and community are sure to enjoy. 

Why Have an International Food Day? 

As most senior centers provide free or affordable meals to the elderly, making mealtime a bit more festive can really be fun. Providing them with a spread of international dishes exposes them to the many cultures around the world. Not to mention, the power of taste can make seniors reminisce and even share their own childhoods. With a bit of decor, a cultured menu, great music, and a few activities, this international food day is sure to be a hit. Below is a bit of advice. 

International Food Day Planning Tips

Below are a few pointers to keep in mind as you plan your International Food Day for seniors. 

Decor Ideas

When it comes to decorating the place there are a ton of ideas. You can make banners out of international flags and hang them around the rooms. Another idea might be to set up each side of the room as a different country. Using the country’s main colors, you can put down tablecloths, hang flags, and get colored paper products to keep with the theme. 

Decide on a Menu

The idea is to pick the most popular dishes from a variety of countries and cultures while also keeping health and diet restrictions in mind. It may be a good idea to work with a catering company that specializes in a variety of cuisines while using fresh ingredients. You can review a catering menu to get an idea of what you’d like to serve at your senior center’s International Food Day. Here are a few things you might look for: 


  • Margherita Pizza


If you’ve always wanted to travel through Italy, stuffing yourself with traditional Italian pizza and wine, you need to add “trying Margherita pizza” to your bucket list. It’s probably the most famous pizza in Italy, though Napoletana and Romana are also popular choices. In Italy, Margherita pizza is made with tomato sauce, basil, and thick slices of mozzarella, but in the states, you’ll more likely to find it made using marinara sauce instead.


  • Elotes (aka Mexican Street Corn)


Elotes originated in Mexico and quickly became a popular late-night snack for many Mexicans. Thankfully, it’s a dish immigrant brought to the states with them, because it’s now a popular snack in the U.S. too. Typically, elotes are made by placing a section of corn on the cob on a stick then slathering it with a combination of mayonnaise or butter, chili powder, cilantro, chihuahua cheese, lime, and salt. 


  • Empanadas


In the U.S., you can find empanadas served in Columbian and Mexican restaurants, but the dish originated in Argentina. Empanadas are stuffed pastries, typically savory, not sweet. There are a lot of different varieties of empanadas, which isn’t surprising when you consider their popularity throughout Latin American, the U.S., and the Philippines. 

For the most part, though, traditional Argentine empanadas are made with a filling that’s a mixture of ground beef or chicken, onions, bell peppers, oil, salt, black pepper, sugar, ground cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano, chicken stock, and reserved beef. 


  • Armenian Beef Kebabs


You can find various versions of kebabs throughout Middle Eastern countries, including shish kebabs, which are popular in the U.S. However, Armenian beef kebabs are a common street food that’s slightly different. It’s still served on a stick or skewer, but it’s wrapped in lavash, an Amerian flatbread.

Decide on Entertainment

Though visitors will spend most of their time eating and socializing, you want to have a bit of entertainment lined up to make the event more fun. You can create a playlist of popular songs from around the world for seniors to dance to if they’d like. Another fun option would be to have seniors to perform for their peers! They could do dances, songs, or other fun activities from their own countries. You can also hire or look for volunteers to come in and teach seniors how to cook traditional dishes, learn international dances, or perhaps to do a play that depicts a certain moment in time. 

Hosting an International Food Day at your senior center is sure to be a hit. The seniors get to taste foods they don’t always get to eat, reminisce about the good old days, learn about other cultures and countries around the world, and have a ton of fun while doing it. Use the tips listed above to begin planning an international event the community will be talking about all year.