The nightlife mayor is taking his constituents out to dinner.
Mayor Adams, who’s known to frequent some of the city’s swankiest bars and restaurants, announced Tuesday that his administration will help organize hundreds of free dinners for “everyday New Yorkers” as part of a community engagement program aimed at fighting hate.
The program, dubbed “Breaking Bread, Building Bonds,” was first launched in January 2020 by then-Brooklyn Borough President Adams. That iteration of the initiative was supposed to facilitate 100 dinners, each featuring 10 New Yorkers from various ethnicities and backgrounds who’d share a meal in a bid to learn from each other and bridge cultural divides — but the effort never got off the ground as the COVID-19 pandemic indefinitely put it on ice.
On Tuesday evening, Adams said he’s relaunching the program with a new goal of hosting 1,000 “Breaking Bread, Building Bonds” dinners across the city. He told reporters he sees the initiative as a “potent weapon” in the fight against racism and hate.
“Out of everything I have done as the mayor of this city, this is probably something that is so important to me,” Adams said at the Marlene Meyerson Jewish Community Center on Manhattan’s Upper West Side ahead of the program’s kickoff dinner.
“Because even if we get over our economy, if we defeat COVID, even if we’re able to build all the housing we want, and if we get all of the violence off our streets — if we do all those things, and we still have people who don’t respect each other as neighbors, then we fail as a city.”
People will be able to apply to host the dinners via a City Hall website.
The United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York, a nonprofit philanthropy group, will then reimburse hosts for upward of $150 per meal once they’ve submitted receipts for their expenses, according to a City Hall spokesman.
That means the administration isn’t dishing out taxpayer dollars on the dinners, the spokesman said. However, the Mayor’s Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes has a publicly-funded $50,000 contract with The People’s Supper to help coordinate the dinners.
“What better way than food to bring us together,” said Eric Goldstein, the president of the United Jewish Appeal Federation of New York who joined Adams for the kickoff.
After the press conference, Adams sat down for a meal at the community center with other attendants. They dined on vegetable and hummus skewers, vegetable wraps and grilled Japanese eggplant, mango and carrot — “all vegan and kosher,” the City Hall spokesman assured.
“I’m socially awkward also. I’m an introvert. I like staying at home in my pajamas,” the self-proclaimed “plant-based” mayor said a bit unbelievably at the dinner table, considering his penchant for partying at private nightclubs like Manhattan’s Zero Bond.
The rollout of Adams’ dinner initiative comes as the city continues to reel from an uptick in hate crimes that started during the pandemic.
“This is our opportunity to heal,” Adams said of the dinner program, “and I’m glad that we’re going to break bread and build bonds together.”