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Mayor Hosts 'Catalyst Dinner' for 500 Around New, Anti-Hate Initiative

“We are attempting to meet with every community across the city to host and attend dinners, so we can break down silos, foster mutual understanding, and eradicate the scourge of hate," said Adams.
Mayor Adams hosts "Catalyst Dinner" at Barclays Center for new initiative, "Breaking Bread, Building Bonds." Photo: BK Reader

In just a little over a month after announcing his Breaking Bread, Building Bonds initiative, NYC Mayor Eric Adams has received more than 2,000 sign ups for the program.

And on Thursday, the mayor hosted a “Catalyst Dinner” at Barclays Center where around 500 of those that registered gathered to take a few practice runs.

Organized in partnership with the Mayor’s Office to Prevent Hate Crimes, The People’s Supper, UJA-Federation of New York, and several community-based organizations, Breaking Bread, Building Bonds aims to actualize 1,000 meals between 10-12 diverse aimed at building trust and fighting hate.

Local elected officials, judges, law enforcement, non-profit leaders and, mostly, just everyday New Yorkers– all of whom have taken an interest in the program– came out to the catalyst dinner at Barclays for a pep talk by the mayor and demonstration of how to host their own dinner.

“At a time when we are seeing increasing hate crimes against our Jewish, AAPI, and LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters, this initiative will empower New Yorkers to recognize our common humanity and celebrate our diversity,” Adams said. “We are attempting to meet with every community across the city to host and attend dinners, so we can break down silos, foster mutual understanding, and eradicate the scourge of hate.”

“We’re trying to break down those silos and build a sense of larger community that is not limited to where we work or what stores we go to, but one that really shows NY in its entirety,” said Hassan Naveed, executive director of the Mayor’s Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes. 

Naveed said he’d already attended one dinner that was hosted at a local restaurant with a diverse group of residents across age, race, religion and sexual orientation. The topics can be specific to a group or subject or as broad as desired. The question everyone was asked and encouraged to get up and answer at that dinner, Naveed said, was, “What was the first time you stood up for something you believed in?”


Similar questions were posed to Thursday’s participants who sat in groups of ten at a roundtable just talking, sharing and commiserating as they waited for the food.

“They’re here to experience it, receive some training and then go out and engage in their networks and host in their own communities– restaurants, in their homes, libraries and community centers,” Naveed said.

“I think any event that brings the community together to speak and be heard is important,” said Chevone Sanon, an administrative law judge at the DMV who is running for Kings County Civil Judge. “Too often I’m finding, as I’m running, that there’s a small group that speaks for the larger group that doesn’t necessarily represent the views and ideas of the larger group. So something like this– that educates and breaks down preconceived ideas about others– is important.”

img_4327Participant Matt Dinerstein commuted into Brooklyn for Manhattan all by himself, because he felt the initiative was so important: “I think we really need to talk and show that we’re all people,” Dinerstein said, “and I just like the idea of meeting new people that I wouldn’t even meet on the street. People don’t understand each other, because they’re in little boxes, especially when it comes to religion and race.”

And judging from Thursday’s practice dinner, the desire to connect was universal, as virtually every class, age, ethnicity, profession was in attendance, including Chovise Depugnon, an FDNY firefighter who came by himself. As he waited in line to get his food, you could see he was buzzing with excitement from where his table’s discussion had gone so far: “I’ve met a guy name Matt from Hong Kong that grew up in his version of “the ‘hood,’ and our version of Alphabet City. His life was so rough, but he went on to attend Harvard,” Depugonon said.  

“We learn that people may be different, come from different place… but yet, have similar experiences as you. The more that we can learn about each other, we can help solve the problems that are going on right now. You can’t grow in isolation.”
For more information and to signup to host a community dinner, go here.