You probably have already had a few festive dinners too many and that's before the Christmas Day blow-out begins.

Even the homeless and disadvantaged will have had their share of turkey and a glass or two of mulled wine as the caring organisations step up their good works.

The best bit about Christmas is that it can be a time for piece on earth (to use a terrible pun) and goodwill and good food for all men, women and children.

The other message is that all this generosity and communal dining is not just for Christmas but for all year round. Making and sharing food can be a simple and effective way of making society a little better. It is also good for the soul.

Some of the things I learned by looking into a few community food initiatives include: An individual cannot solve the world refugee problem. But you can spare an hour to make a dish of pommes dauphinoise as a contribution to dinner at the night shelter for destitute asylum-seekers in Glasgow's Lansdowne Church.

Homelessness is an increasing issue in these troubled economic times, but you can literally eat into the situation by buying a ticket for the Emmaus charity supper club. It is not your usual charity fundraiser. No auctions of signed football jerseys or after-dinner speakers. Just go along to St Peter's church hall in Partick and pay £20 for a three-course Italian dinner cooked by volunteer chefs. Even take along your own wine.

Peace in Palestine may not be on the horizon but there can be common ground when it comes to cooking. I was at a fundraiser for a community cookery club. The chef was Jewish, the food was Jewish. There was a bone of contention between the chef and a diner who was an Arab. It was about how hot the oil should be when frying the latkes potato cakes.

Probably the best example of people taking food into their own hands is the Woodlands Community Garden in West Princes Street, Glasgow. They have turned a gap site into a green and plentiful place. Not only can you learn to grow food – you can also learn how to cook it!

They run classes in a splendid kitchen borrowed from a nearby old folks' centre. I spent a therapeutic hour chopping veg – from celery to bamboo shoots. Then we cooked and sat down to a meal of spicy Chinese soup, some Szechuan deep-fried fingers, and a stew with tofu in it.

As you would expect, the Woodlands community gardeners are evangelical on the vegetarian front. But they were reasonably tolerant when, over dinner, I ventured the opinion that "tofu is murder". Not in the sense that meat is murder, but simply in my opinion tofu is inedible because of its tastelessness and unpleasant texture.

The Woodlands gardeners have regular cook-ins at their plot. A highlight for me at the Winter Warmer gathering was a baked potato from their brick-built oven, topped with a succulent Iranian bean stew made by Soghra, one of the team of cooks.

Up at North Kelvin Meadow there is an organisation called the Children's Wood. The wood is on ground that used to be football pitches and tennis courts until Glasgow City Council abandoned them. Local activists took over the space but now face eviction as the council wants to sell the forest and meadow to a property developer.

They run events such as readings of the Gruffalo in a forest setting. I usually turn up for the food. A barbecue. Or some delicious pumpkin soup at the Halloween party.

The Children's Wood is big on wildlife and there were six real-live reindeer in attendance at the Christmas party. Not for eating, of course – although there were delicacies such as reindeer noses on the home baking table along with the mince pies.

The Scottish Government is trying to implement a diet action plan through an NHS agency called Community Food and Health (Scotland). There is a whole range of Government-funded initiatives to be tapped into. In the kitchen of a church hall in Anderston, Glasgow, I chanced upon a cookery class where an Asian lady was teaching simple tasty dishes, like her Chicken Yassa – a creamy and spicy variation on a Senegalese recipe. I don't know how many folk in Anderston are eating the dish, but I have done much missionary work bringing it to west end tables.

The mantra of Community Food and Health is: "Our aim remains to ensure everyone in Scotland has the opportunity, ability and confidence to access a healthy and acceptable diet for themselves, their families and their communities."

This, it plans, "by ensuring the experience, understanding and learning from local communities informs policy development and delivery through encouraging and enabling communities, policy-makers and policy deliverers to have the confidence, enthusiasm and capacity to constructively engage each other and address food access".

The Scottish diet is more likely to improve if people get together to cook. Why watch Saturday Kitchen when you can do your own community Saturday kitchen?