Does Anyone Bring a Casserole to Their Neighbors Anymore?

A tradition of sharing love through food.

Creamy Kale and Pasta Bake
Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez

In the South, casseroles are a way of life. Casseroles are the meals we put on the dinner table, the dishes we bring to holiday gatherings, and the helping hands we deliver to loved ones in both good times and bad.

Delivering a casserole to a neighbor is an old-fashioned practice that our parents and grandparents have carried out long before us, gifting and serving 9x13 dishes of creamy goodness to our nearest-and-dearest for decades. But, today, in a world where fewer people know (and like) their neighbors, where does the thoughtful gesture of delivering a casserole to a neighbor stand?

Most of us would agree that the tradition lives on in the South. To this day, Southerners will deliver warm dishes—from Chicken Tetrazzini and Pizza Spaghetti Casserole to Chicken Pot Pie—in times of need and transition, such as a death in the family, the birth of a child, or as a welcome to a neighborhood. As a community, we know how to take care of each other just as we know when it's time to show up on a doorstep, casserole in hand. We're known to even ask others to do the same. This is called a meal train, and if you've ever been on the receiving end of one, you know it's proof that love can be found in a cooler full of casseroles on the porch.

However, no matter how many meal trains we organize and Tuna Casseroles we bake, there are times that we, as busy parents, friends, and coworkers, will miss the opportunity to help a neighbor out. We're only human, but the thought of this can feel unsettling—especially when we live in a world in which we know so much about people's lives thanks to constant posts, photos, and updates online. It can make you wonder if we know enough about the real lives of those around us to be a good neighbor.

There's no universal answer to this. Not everyone is going to post a public call for help, and it will not always be obvious when someone in your circle needs an extra-warm gesture or someone thinking of them. You don't get a push notification every time a friend needs a boost of Broccoli and Cheese Casserole.

Just thinking about the tradition of delivering a casserole to a neighbor is a nice reminder to check in on those around us, though. There are things we can do to be more aware of others as we are neighbors, members of church communities, and participants in book clubs and sports leagues. We can text the friend we haven't talked to in a while. We can speak to a neighbor in line at the grocery store or at the mailbox. We can strike up a conversation with the family a pew over at church. We can reach out and simply ask, "How are you doing?"

And we can listen. The next time you get a sense that someone could use some extra support, give them that. Perhaps in the form of carbs, cheese, and cream of something. If past generations taught us anything, it's that casseroles are always a good idea, and especially so when we're able to share our love through food.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles