Montclair, NJ – AAPI Montclair is launching LOVE YOUR LUNCH, a campaign to fight the lunch box shaming often experienced by Asian American and Pacific Islander children and others who bring culturally diverse foods to school.

From gimbap to pancit to daal, the lunches AAPI children bring to school are more than just food — they are a tangible, nourishing connection to family and cultural heritage. Yet for too many children, taking lunch to school can become a source of shame and distress, as peers who lack familiarity with certain foods tease or refuse to be near them.

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LOVE YOUR LUNCH will celebrate curiosity about foods from other cultures, and encourage children to take pride in their families’ food traditions. The campaign will include:

An art contest for K-12 AAPI students across NJ, with local restaurants displaying children’s artwork and donating prizes

A social media campaign to raise awareness of this issue and share resources on talking with children about food acceptance.

Donations of books about lunch shaming, food positivity, and diverse culinary traditions to all kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms in the Montclair Public Schools.

Love Your Lunch library of books. Photo: Eun Ann Im

Giveaway boxes for New Jersey public school educators filled with books and guides to help children learn to celebrate and respect everyone’s lunch.

Guides for students, parents, and educators created by AAPI mental health professional Pauline Montemayor, LCSW, with useful tips for coping with lunch-shaming and fostering a climate of acceptance for diverse cultures and foods.

Participating local restaurants include 7 Doors Down, Ani Ramen, Brick Lane Curry House, Bloom, and Local Coffee, and Sushi Koshi; additional participants are welcome. To learn more, visit