Merrimack Community to Break Bread Once Again

Now in its second year, Merrimack College’s student-led Breaking Bread aims to foster discussion around the ways personal journeys enrich the campus community.
Photo of last year's Breaking Bread event featuring a group of attendees seated at tables inside the Collegiate Church of Christ the Teacher.
Just like last year, members of the Merrimack community will meet at the Collegiate Church of Christ the Teacher to talk DEI and enjoy a culturally diverse three-course meal.

Fellowship, comfort in sharing and a deeper understanding of personal experiences will again be the focus of this year’s Breaking Bread.

After a successful inaugural event last year, the student-led Breaking Bread is back to bring the Merrimack community together to foster discussion around the ways personal journeys enrich the culture, diversity and inclusiveness of the campus community. More than 170 people were invited to participate in Breaking Bread, which features a dinner of culturally diverse and significant meals.

“Diversity, equity and inclusion is something that can be a very heavy topic,” said Jandeliz Hernandez ’25, this year’s emcee and lead organizer. “We really wanted this meal, from the way that everything is plated to how the seats are arranged, to be a lot more intimate so that people feel comfortable speaking to one another.”

Breaking Bread was launched in 2023 through the support of Merrimack College President Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D. and the Office of Intercultural Initiatives. The year’s Breaking Bread menu will include Latin American shrimp tacos in a crispy shell, Southern Asian cauliflower pakora with a curry dipping sauce and Mediterranean arancini with marinara sauce.

“We’re changing the way the courses are set up (compared to last year),” Hernandez explained. “It’s going to be more family-style where the food is going to be in the middle of the table and everyone can serve themselves. We think it would be a better guide to implement that sense of community.”

The courses will be punctuated by discussion topics for attendees to ponder alongside their tablemates. Hernandez said the questions will touch on values, relationships to the self and others, notions of self-identity and how all these contribute to an inclusive community at Merrimack.

Student coordinators will moderate the discussions at each table. Hernandez served as a moderator last year before taking the reins for this year’s event.

“I’ve done smaller events at Unity House but this is by far the largest event I’ve ever helped organize,” she said. “I learned so much – it takes a lot of patience and I’ve been able to use a lot of what I’ve learned (as a marketing major) in promoting this event.”

Merrimack students will also deliver brief remarks during the event, including Alianna Olivier ’24.

“She’s a very involved student and we knew she’d be a perfect fit,” Hernandez said of Olivier. “She is a peer mentor for the ASCEND Program and an FYE mentor. She’s very open to DEI and makes sure she implements these kinds of conversations in her life.”

Olivier said she wanted to participate because she wants to expand her knowledge not just of other people’s backgrounds, but also what makes them think the way they do.

“My speech will touch mainly on what it means to be a person of color at a predominantly white institution, as well as why diversity, equity, and inclusion means so much to me in all of my involvements,” Olivier said.

Breaking Bread will take place on Friday, Feb. 23, from 5 to 8 p.m., in the Collegiate Church of Christ the Teacher.


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