Meals are an important part of the homestay experience. For many students, adjusting to an American diet and lifestyle is easy, but for others it is a bit difficult. Students and host families should try to have open conversations about meals and foods.
Though host families do not need to completely change their family’s cooking and eating habits, sensitivity to what the student likes and dislikes can make a positive impact on a student’s homestay experience.
Here are a few basic guidelines regarding student meals:
Depending on the package selected, the student will be provided with 0-3 meals per day. For high school students, it is required for host families to provide 3 meals per day.
If purchased, breakfast and a sack lunch may need to be self-prepared once the student is shown how (but the groceries should be provided by the host family).
Snacks do not need to be provided by the host family.
On school days, the student will be responsible to pay for school lunches or bring a lunch from home using groceries purchased by the host.
Dinner should be eaten as a family when possible. This is an ideal time for you to interact with your host family!
If a host family is unable to provide what a student prefers, the host family may help the student to make arrangements to purchase those items for himself/herself.
If you are missing specific foods from your home country, you can ask your host family to help find them or take trips with you to the local ethnic market.
Only help yourself to food if your homestay host says it is okay to do so.
Host families should provide a place in the pantry and fridge for the student to store his/her own personal food items.
If a student is expected to pay for their own meal while dining out together with the host, they should be told in advance and then pay separately for their meal.
Host parents must supervise cooking by younger students.
Always, always clean up the kitchen after cooking your own meal!
If your hosts offer you more food and you say no, they may not offer a second time. If you are hungry, you should accept the first offer or ask, “May I please have some more________?”
Examples of food your host might provide:
Breakfast: cereal, toast, fruit, yoghurt, juice, tea, coffee
Lunch: Sandwiches, leftovers from dinner, fruit, salad
Dinner: Pasta, meat and vegetables, stir fry, chicken skewers, rice.
Eating Tips and Etiquette:
Chew with your mouth closed
Do not talk with food in your mouth
Eat quietly without slurping
Ask for items to be passed to you (ex: “Please pass the salad”)
It is not polite to burp at the table
Offer to help clean up after meals