Food for Thought was inspired by the notion that we, as a society, have forgotten the importance of civility. Civility begins when people can discuss their differences in a way that unifies and strengthens their bond as opposed to creating a division. The team recognizes the importance of civility in society and the responsibility to instill that same belief in young people. Their goal was to create a space for young people to experience diversity and inclusion in a welcoming environment and to recognize their differences as strengths. Sitting down together to share a meal is generally a welcoming environment – one that is free from agenda, attack, or divisiveness. Food can be very disarming yet presents people with new and different things that may be outside of their comfort zone. Food for Thought hopes to create an experience in which kids can discuss things that look and taste different, without being rude or offensive, but rather in a way that promotes civility.
Elizabeth Harris, one of the team members, is a member and leader within the Catawba Indian Nation. The Boys and Girls Club on the reservation is made up of youth that often are not exposed to cultures outside of their own. The team plans to orchestrate a meal with these young people that gives them the opportunity to interact with each other and with others outside their community. They will ask these young people to join them for a meal that is likely unfamiliar to them, in a formal setting, during which they will facilitate safe conversations surrounding the foreign nature of both the food and the atmosphere. The goal is to foster civility in the face of diversity and to teach diversity and inclusion in the context of food.