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The Big Lunch

The Eden Project’s Big Lunch takes place on 18 June 2017

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To consider the creation of community and friendship through sharing food together.

Preparation and materials

  • More information about the Eden Project’s Big Lunch event is available at:

  • Optional: you may wish to read or tell the story of the feeding of the 5,000, which is found in Matthew 14.13-21.

  • Note: this assembly refers to neighbours and the importance of community. You may wish to point out that the children should never visit neighbours without permission from their parent or carer.


  1. Ask the children what they understand by the word ‘neighbour’. After some discussion, ask them if they know any of the neighbours in their streets.

    - Do they know who lives next door?
    - Do they know who lives across the road?
    - Do they know how many families are in the street?
    - How many old people are there living on their own?
    - How many people have dogs or cats?

  2. Identify that, in this digital age, it is easy to connect regularly with our friends and family, yet many of us may not know the names of the people who live close by. As a result, people in our communities can sometimes feel very isolated.

  3. Show the images of people sharing a meal together.

    Ask the children what they think the people in each picture could be celebrating. Ask them why they think these times are enjoyable.

  4. Point out that many celebrations involve food. Generally, eating together is seen as an enjoyable thing to do. It is a time that pulls people together, where people talk, laugh and enjoy themselves.

  5. Explain that there is a story in the Bible about a time when Jesus and his disciples had a picnic with over 5,000 people! You may wish to read this story in Matthew 14.13-21.

  6. Several years ago, a charity called the Eden Project recognized the isolation that some people feel in the community and began to develop an event called the Big Lunch. The Big Lunch was launched in 2009 and has now grown into an event where millions of people get together to eat and have fun. The Big Lunch team have said, ‘We started off with a very simple idea: one day a year when, for a few glorious hours, cars stop, shyness stops, gloom lifts and the UK comes together in the street to meet, greet, share, swap, sing, play and laugh for no reason other than that we all need to.’

    The Big Lunch now happens every year on a Sunday in June. This year, it will take place on Sunday 18 June.

  7. The Big Lunch doesn’t mean eating until we are stuffed, though! Instead, it means that a large group of people get together and eat. Last year, more than 7.3 million people took part in the Big Lunch – all eating together in different parts of the country. Over seven million people – that is one big meal!

  8. A Big Lunch might mean sandwiches in someone’s garden, a picnic on a nearby playing field or even a street party. The idea is to get as many people as possible across the whole of the UK to have lunch with their neighbours every year in June. So who might come from your street?

    - The people next door
    - The people across the street
    - Families
    - Old people living on their own
    - People who have dogs and cats

  9. A Big Lunch is designed to bring the community together in a spirit of friendship and fun. It has been proved that these gatherings improve the happiness and well-being of people by helping to build more resilient and better-connected communities. Families get to know one another, generations mix, people make friends and there is always a lot of talking and laughing!

  10. Show the YouTube video, ‘The big lunch 2015’.

Time for reflection

We may not all have Big Lunches planned for 18 June, but all of us can be part of making people feel welcome and included. The feeling of being isolated and alone is not a good one. What can we do to make sure that those around us don’t feel this way?

Jesus said, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ How could a Big Lunch fulfil that command?

Dear God,
Thank you that you love our communities.
Thank you for friends and family.
Please help us to think about those around us.
Please help us to include others and take the time to talk to people who may be feeling lonely.
Please let all the Big Lunches go well this year.

Follow-up ideas

The children could be asked to make a planning page for a Big Lunch, considering venue, date, invitations, food, decorations, local support, games and weather. The school may even wish to organize an event. More information about how to do this is available at:

Publication date: June 2017   (Vol.19 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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