Students Tackle Social Isolation as they Celebrate National No One Eats Alone® Day

Students Tackle Social Isolation as they Celebrate National No One Eats Alone® Day

On February 16, 2024, over a million students in more than 2,000 schools all over the country will initiate new connections and contribute to a culture of belonging as they celebrate National No One Eats Alone® Day, a program created by the nonprofit Beyond Differences to combat social isolation and help students get to know one another and make everyone feel welcome and accepted for who they are. 

Sponsored by Centene Foundation, No One Eats Alone curriculum and materials are provided to schools free of charge. Participating schools receive a Belonging Box with in-class lesson plans on social isolation and actionable steps to cultivate belonging. Each Belonging Box also includes a student leadership guide, conversation cards to help students break the ice with someone new, and supplies to create a themed mural around planting new connections and cultivating a garden of belonging. All student-facing materials are available in both English and Spanish.

“This year’s No One Eats Alone Day theme was inspired by the U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on social connection where he spotlights the negative health effects of social isolation and emphasizes that connections need to be nurtured like a garden,” says Laura Talmus, co-founder and executive director of Beyond Differences. “Our curriculum dives deep into recognizing emotions, understanding social isolation, and gives students tools to be social isolation disruptors and ambassadors of belonging.”

“The Centene Foundation is proud to stand with Beyond Differences and support their mission to foster inclusion and empathy among students. The National No One Eats Alone Day initiative reflects our commitment to create compassionate communities where every individual feels valued and included,” stated Dr. Alice Hm Chen, chief health officer (CHO) of Centene Corporation. “Together, we’re cultivating environments where no one sits alone at school, fostering friendships that transcend differences, and empowering a generation that embraces acceptance and connection.”

Beyond Differences plans to send Belonging Boxes to schools in all 50 states to participate in National No One Eats Alone Day. All Belonging Boxes are provided at no charge to schools. For more information, visit No One Eats Alone.

Nonprofit Beyond Differences’ mission is to inspire students to end social isolation in middle schools and create a culture of belonging for everyone. Founded in 2010, Beyond Differences has created year-round programs to tackle a wide range of issues that lead to social isolation. When educators register for National Programs -– No One Eats Alone, Know Your Classmates®, and Be Kind Online® —  they also get access to Community-Inspired Curriculum written by Beyond Differences’ National Teen Board. These include Queer Visibility, CIRV (Centering Immigrant and Refugee Voices), and Stand Up for AAPI Youth. All curriculum and activity kits are provided free for schools. Currently, more than 10,000 schools use Beyond Differences programs and materials. For more information, visit No One Eats Alone.

The Centene Foundation (the “Foundation”), a private nonprofit focused on investing in economically challenged communities, is the philanthropic arm of Centene Corporation (“Centene”). The Foundation supports projects and initiatives strategically aligned with Centene’s mission-driven culture and enhances the work Centene is doing to remove the barriers to wellness underserved and low-income populations face. The Foundation is committed to addressing social determinants of health and improving health equity in three distinct areas of focus: healthcare access, social services, and education. To learn more, visit the Centene Foundation’s website.