How Did the Peace Feast Get Started?

In 2004, a group of about 25 people from a small church group met at a Lebanese restaurant near Arizona State University. Each week they came with hungry stomachs and open ears. This group was interested in other cultures, and Ali, the owner of the restaurant, didn’t leave them disappointed. He would always recommend different meals, explaining the ingredients and telling stories about meal times in Lebanon.

The group also wanted to learn about more than food. They would often ask questions about Lebanon, Arab culture, history, religion, and Ali’s personal story. Over time, friendships were built between Ali and several people in the group, and Ali would often introduce other Lebanese friends to the group.

Every week they enjoyed the restaurant’s food and were impacted by Ali’s friendship. The group was accustomed to watching intense news reports from the Middle East and seeking Ali’s opinion; and because of their friendship with Ali and these deep conversations with him, many of the group members were able to think about the Middle East and these events with more nuance and compassion.

Ali often said that this church group kept him in business. They usually thought he was joking or trying to be nice. However, as people moved away, the group eventually disbanded and shortly after, the restaurant closed.

Jim Mullins, the Vice President of Peace Catalyst International, was a part of that community, a frequent customer at the restaurant, and had become good friends with Ali. Although the community disbanded and the restaurant closed, it sparked the idea that eventually became the Peace Feast.

How you can start a Peace Feast

We would love to help you start a Peace Feast in your area. If you're interested, contact us and we will send you a Leader’s Guide that will help you get a Peace Feast started in your city.