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Friday, February 12, 2021 National No One Eats Alone Day
An Initiative of Beyond Differences Sponsored by Centene Charitable Foundation

Questions & Answers

What is Beyond Differences?

Beyond Differences (beyonddifferences.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated to ending social isolation in middle schools across the country and creating a culture in which all kids feel included, valued and accepted by their peers. The organization is based on the tenet that students are in charge of their own campus culture of inclusion.

What is social isolation?

Social isolation is the feeling of being left out, lonely, or invisible.

There are students in schools all over the world who quietly suffer from loneliness and isolation throughout each day. This feeling of loneliness is often highlighted at lunchtime, when kids are left to fend for themselves socially.

How are social isolation and bullying connected?

It is our experience that social isolation is often the precursor to bullying. School communities with a culture of inclusion will have far fewer instances of bullying and cruelty.

Why social isolation? Don’t schools have bigger problems like bullying and violence?

We believe that much of the bullying and violence in our schools can be addressed by treating the underlying causes, rather than just the symptoms.

Social isolation is a problem in every school. We have talked to over 10,000 students in dozens of schools and afterschool programs, and we have found the problem of social isolation to be universal. We also acknowledge the relationship between social isolation and bullying and violence. By reducing social isolation, we believe we can help end much bullying and violence.

How are you different from other programs?

We are a teen-led, grassroots program. We believe meaningful change will only come when it is peer-driven. That’s why we are focusing on leadership development among teens with our Teen Board High School Program and Leadership Academy Training Program, designed for middle school students. Both middle schoolers and high school students have a critical role to play in their community to end social isolation. It is often the students who help their parents, teachers and community leaders see the importance of inclusive behavior both in person and online. Beyond Differences is attracting national attention precisely because this concept of inclusion is so simple and so relevant to young students! Everyone can be part of the movement.

What is No One Eats Alone?

No One Eats Alone is a lunchtime school event that seeks to reverse the trends of social isolation by asking students to engage in a simple act of kindness at lunch – making sure that no one is eating alone and students are making an effort to eat with new classmates and peers.

Why do No One Eats Alone?

Because it will be the starting place for changing the culture of your middle school to one where all kids feel included, valued and accepted by their peers.

No One Eats Alone Day works because of three simple ideas:

  • Students Can Improve Their Own Communities: No One Eats Alone allows students to make a tangible change in their own community by making sure that everyone is included at lunch.
  • Inclusive Communities are safer Communities: Inclusive school communities create happier and more successful students while also empowering youth to be agents of change.
  • Stopping Social Isolation Helps to Stop Bullying: Social isolation is oftentimes the precursor for bullying. School communities with a culture of inclusion have far fewer instances of bullying.

How much money will this initiative cost your school?

The program is provided free of cost. You can sign up online*. All you need to add is your imagination, creativity and energy!

*The 2021 No One Eats Alone resources will be shared in January 2021.

Will you be shipping backpacks this year?

In the past, we have provided NOEA purple backpacks filled with materials and original curriculum to help teachers work with their students to create connection and acceptance that ultimately builds strong communities. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve been swift to pivot and modify our materials and programs. For No One Eats Alone 2021, we have altered the curriculum so teachers can use the materials and interactive exercises in the classroom or via zoom and other online platforms. We are carefully monitoring the situation to align with the safety protocols of schools, students, educators, and administrators. Our staff and volunteers will know more in January if we will be sending physical supplies or not.