Thousands of Schools Set to Challenge Social, Racial Boundaries During Eighth Annual 'Mix It Up at Lunch Day'

Nov 06, 2009, 12:15 ET from Southern Poverty Law Center

MONTGOMERY, Ala., Nov. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Students at thousands of schools across the country will challenge social and racial boundaries through the simple act of taking a new seat in the cafeteria on Tuesday, Nov. 10, the eighth annual Mix It Up at Lunch Day.

Sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance program, Mix It Up is designed to foster respect and understanding in schools and communities. It encourages students to question and cross boundaries by sitting with someone new in the cafeteria for just one day.

Cafeterias are the focus of Mix It Up because that's where a school's social boundaries are most obvious. Many schools are planning activities for the whole day, and some use the event to kick off a yearlong exploration of social divisions.

"Mix It Up is a powerful way to address a major concern in many schools -- bullying and harassment," said Lecia Brooks, director of Teaching Tolerance. "When people step out of their cliques and get to know someone, they realize just how much they have in common."

Thousands of schools are expected to participate in this year's program. More information, including a map displaying participating schools, can be found at

Event organizers who responded to a 2008 survey said Mix It Up at Lunch Day successfully encouraged students to cross group lines and meet new people; raised awareness about social boundaries; helped students make new friends; and made students feel more comfortable interacting with different kinds of people.

"This helps all of our kids become friends, and it's a strategy we use to promote kindness and tolerance with our students," Laurie Wolke, principal of Laurence Elementary in California, recently told the Los Angeles Daily News. "At the end of the day, this is about character education and teaching our kids to be inclusive, step out of their usual social circles and make new friends."

The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery, Ala., is a nonprofit civil rights organization that combats bigotry and discrimination through litigation, education and advocacy. For more information, see

SOURCE Southern Poverty Law Center