Seattle Foundation Blog

Sharing Food and Culture with Eat with Muslims

Elaine Chu, philanthropic advisor at Seattle Foundation, shares her experience with Neighbor to Neighbor grantee organization Eat with Muslims


February 16, 2017

By Elaine Chu, Philanthropic Advisor

 I remember growing up in a predominantly Italian neighborhood in New York City and how my culture and theirs were so different.  The one thing that always brought us together was food and how you learn so much about someone beyond the ingredients and recipes the created these memorable meals.  We gathered together at a park and my mom would tell stories of why she made sticky rice only once a year and Grandma Alegra would talk about her special Italian sauce and where it came from.

Many people in our community currently have very deep feelings of fear, anxiety, hope and change for people of different cultures and histories, but no matter what your cultural background is, food is the one common need that we all have and as you hear stories, it gives you a good glimpse into people’s lives.  Food is a vehicle used to communicate sentiments, creativity and memories.

This is what our Neighbor to Neighbor program grantee Eat with Muslims strives to accomplish. The Neighbor to Neighbor supports grassroots efforts that increase engagement, power and influence of community members affected by poverty and racial disparities. Eat with Muslims is committed to building connections between people of different cultures and having an open dialogue through eating together and sharing their stories.  The hope is to strengthen and enrich everyone’s lives and backgrounds for all communities and engage new community members in the Kent and South Seattle area.  It hosted its first dinner on January 14th and brought together community leaders, neighbors and diverse groups to discuss what our country is currently facing, in particular issues around perceptions and current political climate regarding Muslims of different ethnicities, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds.  Many discussed how this is the first time they’ve had any interaction with Muslims and that coming together for a meal can make a huge positive difference in that many questions can be answered through sharing.

In the next three months, Eat with Muslims plans to have six dinners to engage over 100 individuals and allow everyone to dig deeper and learn from each other.   The dinners will be recorded as web series and uploaded to their website and social media so that others not at the table can listen to the conversations.   Please check out one of their videos.

If you are interested in learning more about our N2N program or supporting it with a grant, read more about the program.

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