Last year, I attended my first Community Dinner with my family. I was intrigued by the tagline – “Sit down with a stranger and leave with a friend” – and knew that the program had been running for over two decades. The tickets were cheap and the event promised food from around the world. It was pouring. We bundled the kids in the car and headed over to the middle school.

We weren’t sure what to expect. I’m pretty introverted, and the idea of mingling with complete strangers over a communal lunch stretches slightly outside of my comfort zone. That wasn’t the case for my four-year-old, who immediately bonded with Aaron Keck and James Barrett over Wordle opening word strategies. He worked the room, as we saw neighbors, council members, local artists, board of ed members, and other community leaders: a real smorgasbord of people.

We are somewhere in this picture. (Courtesy: Community Dinner)

And food. There was a ton of food and it was really good, so much so that my five-year-old went up for seconds and eventually thirds. There was an all-you-can-eat fruit display.

My kids were particularly intrigued by the fruit display. If you love grapes – as they do – this is the spot for you. (Courtesy: Community Dinner)

My kids enjoyed the dancers and music: there’s a variety of entertainment.

For the first time, Community Dinner tickets are being sold online-only this year. Adult tickets are 10 bucks; kids under 12 are 5. You can get tickets here.

The Twenty-fourth Annual Mildred Council Community Dinner will be held Sunday, April 28, 2024 at 1 PM in the McDougle School Cafeteria, 900 Old Fayetteville Rd. in Chapel Hill.


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Melody Kramer is a Peabody-award winning journalist whose work has appeared on NPR and member stations around the country, as well as in publications ranging from National Geographic to Esquire Magazine....