School of Communication and the Arts


Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design (MFA)


David Meyer


Community, Food, Isolation, COVID-19, Commensality, Gen Z, Loneliness, Cookbook, Mental Health, Cooking, Publication, Hunger, Social Sustainability, Resources, Corona Virus, Kitchen, Meal, Preparation, Family, Dinner, Social


Art and Design


In order to address issues of isolation in the wake of a global pandemic, this thesis examines the nature of the connection between food and community through commensality. “Commensality” is defined as the practice of eating together, which has demonstrable health benefits on personal, interpersonal, and psychological levels. Research reveals that, while commensality has been a foundational tenet of society since civilization’s beginnings, instances of commensality appear to be at an all time low for modern Americans. The results are diminished mental health, undeveloped support networks, and missed opportunities for emotional connection. All of these may be thought of as symptoms of a larger issue: a lack of social sustainability. Through analysis of various relevant studies, firsthand accounts, and food-related media, this thesis establishes several observations: first, that today’s young adults struggle with social sustainability, second, that food is instinctually tied to social development, and third, that commensality can serve as a viable means to combat isolation and cultivate community. With this data as a basis, the thesis argues for a holistic perspective of food that encompasses its vital roles as a sustainer and social catalyst, suggesting a strategic use of commensality to promote healthy community.