Improving our well-being and engagement in a COVID world

Virtual ‘Food for Thought’ Experience

December 2, 2021
The Community Foundation of Broward's Dec. 2 "Food for Thought" virtual event explores ways to support mental health during the pandemic and beyond.

Living through this time of social distancing, masks and Zoom meetings can make us feel isolated and disconnected from our community. We need to find new ways to flourish, bolster our mental health and renew our connections to each other.

Community Foundation Board Chair James Donnelly helps lead the Dec. 2 virtual "Food for Thought" experience about fostering well-being and engagement during the pandemic.

The Community Foundation of Broward recently hosted a thought-provoking exploration of ways to improve our well-being and engage with others during the pandemic. This online get-together was our latest “Food for Thought” – virtual opportunities for our Fundholders, Legacy Society members, professional advisors and others to learn more about Broward’s big issues and the work of the Foundation.

During the pandemic, we have transformed our traditional Food for Thought luncheons into online, interactive meetings held via Zoom. This time, to put the “Food” back into “Food for Thought,” participants received complimentary lunches delivered by DoorDash.

The Food for Thought held Dec. 2 featured author Beth Kanter – an internationally recognized expert in fostering well-being in the nonprofit workplace – who shared her insights about the mental health repercussions of the pandemic and ways we can all improve our well-being.

Beth discussed how increased anxiety and depression, loneliness, collective grief, “re-entry anxiety” and even Zoom meeting fatigue are among the growing mental health impacts of this lingering pandemic.

“The pandemic has had impact on everyone,” Beth Kanter said. “It’s ok to feel overwhelmed. It’s ok if you’re not ok.”

Beth led Food for Thought participants in a “waterfall chat” where they simultaneously typed responses to open-ended questions such as “If only ...”, “It makes me ...”, and “When all is said and done, ...”. Their answers cascaded down the screen like a waterfall, enabling the group to take comfort in shared responses and learn from surprising answers.

Breakout sessions during the Food for Thought enabled participants in small groups to discuss the coping measures they have used to improve their well-being. Getting more exercise, taking up a new hobby and inviting a friend over for a backyard cup of coffee were among the examples shared.

Beth offered an array of tips for improving well-being and engagement during the pandemic and beyond, such as:

  • Practice “mental distancing” by taking breaks from social media and TV
  • Make more of an effort to virtually reconnect with friends and family
  • Go outside or take other “joyful” breaks from at-home work/screen time
  • To reduce Zoom fatigue, switch off the “self-view” mode during online meetings
  • Attend outdoor activities that enable safe interaction with others
  • Get more sleep and exercise

“We do have hope. We do have coping mechanisms. We need to keep that long-term view,” Beth Kanter said.

The “enlightening” Food for Thought discussion is the latest example of the Community Foundation’s ongoing efforts to bolster well-being and support mental health solutions, President/CEO Jennifer O’Flannery Anderson said.

During the pandemic, the Community Foundation has provided grants to tackle to senior isolation, support crisis counseling and launch new efforts to honor hardworking front-line workers.

In addition, the Community Foundation recently awarded a $1 million grant for Henderson Behavioral Health’s new crisis stabilization unit in Fort Lauderdale. Henderson’s growing campus in Fort Lauderdale enables more emergency walk-in service, expands the number of beds from 23 to 48 and includes a mobile crisis response unit and outpatient services.

“We are getting much-needed support for well-being and mental health out in the community to make a BOLD impact,” Jennifer O’Flannery Anderson said.
Learn More

To learn how we can help you create a BOLD impact with a charitable fund at the Community Foundation, contact Vice President of Philanthropic Services Nancy Thies at or 954-761-9503.

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