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National No One Eats Alone Day

No One Eats Alone Day (NOEA Day) is a "student-led day of action" encouraging youth to sit with others, find new friends, and model ways to end social isolation—particularly in the lunchroom. Each year, more than a million students in over 2,500 schools in all 50 states participate in this effort to end social isolation and loneliness. The focus is on students between 5th and 8th grade when youth are forming their identity and social isolation is pervasive.

No One Eats Alone Day was created by Beyond Differences, an organization founded by Laura and Ace Smith whose mission is "to inspire students nationwide to end social isolation and create cultures of belonging for everyone." They created No One Eats Alone Day because they wanted "a lunchtime initiative to help students connect so that no one would feel invisible, in honor of their daughter Lili Rachel Smith, who overcame social isolation as a young adult." The day has become their leading program.

The first No One Eats Alone Day was held in 2012 at Davidson Middle School in San Rafael, California. That first event aimed to raise awareness about students who were sitting alone and to encourage their classmates to reach out and include them at their table. Since then, Beyond Difference has continued to work directly with schools, on campus and online, "to help disrupt social isolation and promote inclusion in their schools." Educators and schools can register for the day and access Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) lessons, while students can access a Student Leader Guide to help them plan for the day.

How to Observe National No One Eats Alone Day

If you are an educator, register your classroom or school for the day. If you can plan in advance of the day, Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) lessons can be accessed and taught, to educate students about social isolation. You can also ensure students can access the Student Leader Guide, which will help them lead and plan the day. A webinar workshop on how to run the day is also offered in advance.

If you are a student, participate in the day by sitting with and talking to those sitting alone at lunch. Maybe you'll make a new friend! Why not take your efforts to connect with others beyond the lunchroom, to the rest of school and then outside of school? Then make an effort to not only do this today but during the rest of the year as well!

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