Beyond the Signs – Meal Sharing


The idea behind the Hate Has No Home Here project is that it is difficult to hate people we know. This is one of the reasons the project has been developed for community-centric focus – our neighborhoods, our schools, our places of business – these places matter to us and the people in them are familiar. Putting our signs up speaks to them, and reminds us, what our values are. Once we put our signs up, however, it’s important to build upon that and strengthen our relationships. The stronger our bonds with one another, the less likely hate can find home near us.


Everybody loves food. Like the universality of our message, food brings people together, provides the opportunity to share, learn, and celebrate a common purpose. We therefore recommend a meal-sharing event as your first get-together, and have found two examples that may be useful to you in planning a community-style meal.

The first is “On the Table,” a project of The Chicago Community Trust. The purpose of the “On the Table” event is to bring people together face-to-face to find common ground and common cause. The goal is then to move ideas from the table to make powerful things happen. It allows neighbors take action to “benefit neighborhoods and the public good”. You can read more about “On the Table” here.


The second is “The People’s Supper”, which started as a smaller project and has since grown exponentially. We can relate.  The aim of this project is “to repair the breach in our interpersonal relationships across political, ideological, and identity differences, leading to more civil discourse.” We can relate to that, too. To learn more about The People’s Supper and to access their discussion guides, click here.


As with all of our initiatives, we hope this will be a shared endeavor, allowing you to bring multiple voices and perspectives to your gathering. This may be a good time to reach out to neighbors or community organizations you do not know well, but who have supported the Hate Has No Home Here campaign, to include them in the planning. Think about your local school’s parent association, your local civic association, faith-based groups, multi-cultural groups, library book clubs, park district teams/clubs. If your meal only includes people you already know well, whose perspectives you may share, you may find the conversation less productive, so look a little outside your own circle for help.

TIP: Be sure to ask prospective planners what would work best for them in terms of meeting to talk about things. We have learned that different cultures have different expectations about meeting times of day, places, etc. so you want to prepare with that in mind. There are some adaptable suggestions in this article from the Harvard Business Review.


You may want to set up a separate social media group or use Google docs and email to help you connect, plan, and share information among planners and, later, among attendees. We have found that using a private a private Facebook group to plan/resolve questions amongst ourselves works well, but we also like to meet in person to share ideas, assign tasks, update one another, etc.

TIP: For event invitations, we have used both EventBrite and Facebook Events which have both worked well, and allowed us to keep track of interest, attendees, and feedback.


Scaling your event to your available assets is important to your success. Once you know what you have, you can determine what you need based on the size of your group.

TIP: We recommend a table of no more than 10 people (6-8 is ideal) so that each person can actively participate.

Once you have established your planning group, take stock of your potential resources.  Maybe someone works for an organization that has a party room or access to a space adaptable to your plan. If you will be opening your invitation to people you don’t know, you may prefer to use a public space, rather than someone’s private home, to ensure comfortable access for everyone and to protect privacy of hosts. Is there a neighborhood restaurant that would set aside a few tables for you? Establish a venue that makes sense for your group and your budget.

Then think about how you can make the meal as accessible as possible, by underwriting as much of the cost as you can. If any member of your planning group works/volunteers with an organization that has funding for civic engagement, find out if you can tap into those funds. Are there grants via your local charitable organizations that could support your event? If you do not have access to sufficient resources and funds to support the cost of the full event, you may wish to work with a private donor or begin fundraising using a crowd-sourced tool like GoFundMe.


Like any other meal you might host for friends, you’ll want to establish a welcoming atmosphere. This is where doing a bit of learning ahead of time will be immensely helpful. Consider scheduling, time, language barriers, and menu, in addition to location, when you prepare your event.

TIPS: (adapted from

Check event days for possible conflict with national, religious or ethnic holidays.

Specify start and end times, as concepts of punctuality vary across different cultures.

Address language barriers, if any are anticipated. You may want to use translations for written materials, or provide visuals, and ask guests to minimize use of slang, pop-culture references or cultural “in-jokes” that can exclude non-native speakers.

Make introductions. Some cultures are more outgoing, others encourage less extroverted behavior. Include an ice-breaker, like name tag preparation with information about the guest (i.e. Kamija, she/her/hers, my favorite color is red). Where possible, make sure hosts personally greet guests.

Respect food-and-beverage restrictions. Orthodox Jews require kosher food and beverages. Observant Muslims require halal certification for their food and beverages. Many Hindus and Buddhists follow strict vegan diets, avoiding meat, fish, fowl and animal products. In addition, many people adhere to vegetarian diets for nonreligious reasons.

We strongly encourage that you consider refraining from alcohol service at these meal-sharing events, so as to both respect cultural norms, and ensure guests remain focused on the purpose of the conversation.



You may wish to set a theme for your event. Think about something simple and open-ended so there is sufficient opportunity for everyone to contribute, i.e. a conversation about ‘belonging’ or ‘unity’ or ‘compassion’ or ‘acceptance’.  Check the resource guides for On the Table and People’s Supper for ideas on how to ask questions and include everyone in the discussion. If the goal of your discussion is to activate your neighbors, don’t just ask for ideas, but ask for pragmatic steps those at the table can take.

TIP: When an idea is proposed, ask how it could be moved from idea to implementation, i.e. IDEA: I’d love it if we had more green space in the neighborhood. FOLLOW-UP: OK, how could we make that happen?


At the end of your dinner you’ll want to get some feedback from participants. Consider providing a survey, whether on paper or by email, to all attendees, asking them a few questions, i.e. did the event meet expectations? would they have preferred any changes? would they like to participate in organizing the next event? You can use these responses to help you plan future get-togethers.

At the end of your discussion, you may have come up with several great ideas, and encouraged participants to take steps toward making their ideas come to life. Collect contact information from your guests, if you don’t have it already, so you can follow-up with them, either to contribute to their efforts or to learn about the ways they begin to engage.

TIP: Consider providing updates to your meal-share group through a social media site or email server like MailChimp. Encourage participants to contribute to this communication as a way to strengthen your coalition of active change agents.


Once you have hosted your event, we’d love to celebrate your success using our national platform. Please let us know by sending us a message on with the name of your project (ie Hate Has No Home Here-MainTown), your location, your contact information (Lari Marguerre 771.918.3112, and any social media links you’d like to include in our promotion. We also have an Instagram account where we post project photos from around the country, so we’d love to see pictures of your meal-share event, and we’d be glad to include you in our Twitter feed at @HateHasNoHome.

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We hope these guidelines are helpful to you. If we can provide additional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. If you learn things you think may be useful to improve these guidelines, please let us know so we can update our FAQs. Thanks for helping us share the message – we are glad to have you with us!