Students across America today are participating in Mix It Up at Lunch Day, an event that fights bullying and reduces bias by breaking down racial and social barriers in the one place in school where they’re most obvious – the lunchroom.
More than 6,100 schools, representing every state, are participating in the 12th annual event – double the number that officially participated in the program last year.
The program, held in conjunction with National Bullying Prevention Month, encourages students to step out of their cliques and sit with someone new in the cafeteria for just one day.
“The response to Mix It Up at Lunch Day has been nothing short of extraordinary this year,” said Maureen Costello, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project, which sponsors the event. “Millions of children across the country are finding common ground and making new friends. It’s a fun way to learn how to get along with people who may have a different background or who hang out with a different group.”
A map showing the number of schools participating in each state this year can be viewed here.
Many schools are planning barrier-busting activities for the entire day, and some use the event to kick off yearlong explorations of social divisions.
Last year, for example, students at Albion Middle School in Sandy, Utah, organized a campus-wide flash mob for their Mix it Up at Lunch Day. In Illinois, students at Palatine High School planned a three-day extravaganza called “Lunchapalooza.” In addition to getting to know their classmates, students performed karaoke, danced and shared other talents.
Teaching Tolerance is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation’s children. It produces and distributes tools at no cost to teachers, including Teaching Tolerance magazine, online curricula and professional development resources, and multimedia teaching kits that introduce students to various civil rights issues.