EUN ANN IM / Love Your Lunch campaign books

New Jersey is known for its cultural diversity and acceptance, but sometimes kids and teens still tease each other about their backgrounds. It makes the formative years even more difficult, with the joking and shaming.

AAPI Montclair has a solution for kids who feel uncomfortable during lunchtime: the launch of “Love Your Lunch” is a first-of-its-kind campaign to fight the lunch-shaming commonly experienced by Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) children and others who bring culturally diverse foods to school.

Kids with an AAPI background may bring and enjoy foods like rice balls, curry, pancit and dumplings for lunch. However, some other kids in school who haven’t been exposed may shame their classmates who are having these foods for lunch because they are unfamiliar.

The Love Your Lunch campaign will present several ways to raise awareness and limit the negative associations. There will be an art contest for K-12 AAPI students across New Jersey, with local restaurants displaying children’s artwork and donating prizes. On Instagram (@loveyourlunchorg) you can find resources on how to talk to your kids about food acceptance.

AAPI Montclair will accept and distribute donations of books about lunch shaming, food positivity and diverse culinary traditions to all kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms in the Montclair Public Schools. Giveaway boxes filled with books and guides to help children learn to celebrate and respect everyone’s lunch will be provided to New Jersey public school educators. Guides for students, parents and educators created by AAPI mental health professional Pauline Montemayor, LCSW, offers useful tips for coping with lunch-shaming and fostering a climate of acceptance for diverse cultures and foods.

Participating restaurants include 7 Doors Down Ramen Co., Ani Ramen House, Brick Lane Curry House Montclair, Bloom, Local Coffee and Sushi Koshi.

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