Big Lunch Events Sweep U.K. with Many Charity Beneficiaries

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June 3, 2012; Source: The Examiner

In connection to the spectacular Diamond Jubilee centerpiece events honoring the Queen in the U.K., many small-scale community celebrations that help raise money for charitable organizations have also been taking place throughout the U.K.

On Sunday, an estimated 900,000 Big Lunch community street parties, attended by millions of Brits across the U.K. and the commonwealth, joined in on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. The Big Jubilee Lunches, which actively encourage community harmony and interaction, are inspired by the Eden Project’s Big Lunch initiative, which was initiated in 2009.

The aim of a Big Lunch is to get as many people as possible across the whole of the U.K. to have lunch with their neighbors in a simple act of community. According to The Eden Project, three quarters of those who have previously taken part in a Big Lunch say they have kept in touch and feel closer to their neighbors; more than half of those who took part in 2011 are planning additional activities. A Big Lunch can be anything from a few neighbors getting together in the garden or on the street to a full blown street party with food, music and decoration that quite literally stops traffic. Many Big Lunches also raise money for charitable organizations.

Big Lunch events in the U.K. have been supported by a number of celebrities including AbFab star Joanna Lumley and Sir Richard Branson. Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, attended a Big Jubilee Lunch in London on Sunday. The events also involve cross-sector partnerships between large national charitable organizations, corporate sponsors, local governments, and philanthropic institutions. The Queen, who provides patronage to more than 600 U.K. charities, did not attend a Big Jubilee lunch herself, but sent a message in support of the events.

Would Big Lunch-style events take hold in the U.S.? And if so, why hasn’t it been tried before? –John Hoffman