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No One Eats Alone: The Day Every Student in America Had a Lunch Buddy

February 25, 2016

Talking Points

Inside #NoOneEatsAlone Day: The amazing day where every student in America had a lunch buddy

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This article is one in a series at The Seventy Four which profiles the heroes, victories, success stories and random acts of kindness to be found at schools all across America. Read more of our recent inspiring coverage at The74million.org/series/inspiring.
It’s dubbed “No One Eats Alone” day, and the idea is simple, straightforward — and spectacular: make sure every student has someone to eat lunch with. Two weeks ago on Feb. 12, in an outpouring of empathy that quietly went viral across the country, schools encouraged their students to find a stranger, make a new friend and break bread together.
Judging by all the tweets, shares and smiles, the 2016 No One Eats Alone Day was a smash success.

Scenes from No One Eats Alone Day celebrations across the country. So many new friends being made!

Posted by Beyond Differences on Friday, February 12, 2016

At Dallas, Texas’ Ann Richards Middle School, seventh-grader Thomaz Vazquez told WFAA: "A whole crowd of girls and boys sat with this special needs student, and it made his day. He had a big smile on his face...it made my day seeing another kid happy."

No One Eats Alone is a project of Beyond Differences, a student-led organization dedicated to ending social isolation. The group says that social isolation is a precursor to bullying, violence and depression.
"Middle school is the the toughest years for our students," Ann Richards school counselor Tarin Coley, told WFAA. "We have some students that before we talk to them and build their confidence, they were cutting."

But instead of focusing on the problems, No One Eats Alone day is all about creating a space for positive — and proactive — solutions. At Fernando Rivera Middle School in Daly City, California, students were randomly assigned to tables and given activities to do:

"They are playing games on paper, they are playing actual board games and then we have the big group games, but everyone is engaged, everyone is doing something," event organizer Sue McMahon-Dyogi told ABC 7.
Meanwhile, at Portland, Oregon’s Rosebay Heights Middle School, students prepped for the event in a very public way. First, they gave comments at a Board of Education meeting about the importance of the No One Eats Alone program. The board responded by approving a resolution that formalized the initiative across the school system. Then, the day before, the school held an assembly that had the feel of a pep rally. On the big day, they had a creative way of getting students to sit together: Tables were associated by music genres so students simply had to go to the table with the music they liked.

Roseway Heights middle school students in Portland, Ore. preparing for National No One Eats Alone Day tomorrow with an assembly!

Posted by Beyond Differences on Thursday, February 11, 2016

At H.B. du Pont Middle School in Hockessin, Delaware, each eighth grader was given a small square of colored paper to indicate which table to sit at:

As they entered the school cafeteria on February 12, 2016, H.B. du Pont eighth graders were given a small square of...

Posted by Red Clay Consolidated School District on Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Riverview Elementary in Hamilton, Ohio shared photos from their event on Twitter with the hashtag #SandyHookPromise, a sober reminder of the necessity of social connection.

The goal of the event is to kickstart long-lasting relationships. Ferber Elementary School in Appleton, Wisconsin, sixth grade teacher Beth Mleziva told FOX 11, "I'm hoping it's a starting point. Our goal is to do it more than just once this year, even though this is the actual national day."
And the effort seems to be working. As one student explained, “Leave lunch with a new friend and continue the friendship through the rest of the year!"

Scenes from No One Eats Alone Day celebrations across the country. So many new friends being made!

Posted by Beyond Differences on Friday, February 12, 2016