In 2017, the Reading Terminal Market’s general manager Anuj Gupta requested and obtained a grant from the Knight Foundation for the project “Breaking Bread, Breaking Barriers: Food as a Bridge to Cultural Understanding”. The project was originally set up as a series of intimate dinners hosted at the Market where different races, cultures, and ethnicities would come together to cook and eat delicious food. Anuj was inspired by a book called “The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life” written by Yale sociologist and Philly resident Elijah Anderson.
The culmination event that marked the grand finale of the first series of dinners, in September 2017, saw the Mummers play some of their most popular tunes, while 150 people of various different cultures enjoyed dinner on Filbert Street.
“Every day the news tells us new Americans and old Americans can’t come together. We have proven through this project that it can happen.”
Anuj Gupta, GM at the Reading Terminal Market
The project has transformed into larger dinner events hosted in community centers around the city or parks, in collaboration with “Friends of Park” groups.The success of this initiative lays in the concept that food brings people together. During the dinner series, participants realized there are tons of common ingredients to cuisines from very distant areas of the world.