What is Mix It Up at Lunch Day?

What is Mix It Up at Lunch Day?
Posted on 10/30/2015
By Claudie Jean-Baptiste and Rose Levine

Mix It Up at Lunch Day is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Here is their description of the day:

A national campaign launched by Teaching Tolerance over a decade ago, Mix It Up at Lunch Day encourages students to identify, question and cross social boundaries.

In surveys conducted by Teaching Tolerance, students have identified the cafeteria as the place where divisions are most clearly drawn. So on one day—October 27 this school year—we ask students to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch. It’s a simple act with profound implications. Studies have shown that interactions across group lines can help reduce prejudice. When students interact with those who are different from them, biases and misperceptions can fall away.

On October 27, Graham & Parks students were paired with students from other classes in their grade levels and became lunch buddies. For the most part, students were very enthusiastic about the change in seating. They were happy to sit next to somebody new and to be able to talk to that person. One student talked about having a new best friend and another one was so happy about learning someone else’s name. Another student explained, "I liked Mix It Up Day because it was super fun because we got to sit next to kids we don't usually sit next to at regular lunch." Teachers observed a discussion between a SEI student explaining her heritage and background to a general education student. There were other discussions about Halloween, sports and finding out common interests. Students described the day as “great, perfect, exciting, fantastic and fun.”

Here is how one teacher described Mix It Up Day: “What a great day! The most special moment of the day was when all my home lunch students saved spots for the lunch-line students. No reminders from teachers needed! The kids were so enthused about making their special buddy feel welcome. Kids talked about favorite movies and books, and I saw new friendships blossoming everywhere! At the end of the day, kids drew and wrote about their partners.” Another teacher said she observed two girls who were so happy and so proud that they made new friends. The teacher added, “They knew their names now and planned to sit with them on the bus. They had been scared to talk to them on the bus, but this made it easier for them. The other girl plans to play with the new friend at recess.”

Mix It Up 2015 was a great beginning. We are hoping to continue with the tradition in years to come.