All citizens of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and throughout Orange County are invited to Sunday’s 17th Annual Community Dinner, a signature event of the community.

Co-organizer Nerys Levy, who shares that duty with Mildred Council of Mama’s Dip’s restaurant, describes the Community Dinner as something unique to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area.

“We all sit down together, irrespective of culture, race, gender, class, and break bread together and eat together,” she says. “And even if some people can’t afford tickets, we make sure that they get invited. They don’t get free tickets – they are invited, as guests.’

The annual event started 17 years ago as a celebration of Black History Month in February. Levy says the event was moved to April because of unpredictable weather in February and March. She said she also didn’t want it to collide with basketball.

The dinner usually draws about 650 people. Levy predicts even more this year.

Donations are taken after the main meal is served. Levy praises the community for being generous in the past.

“We always need donations,” says Levy. “Twenty-two dollars feeds a family of four. And we certainly need a lot more money to help do that.’

The Community Dinner has the honor of recently winning a National League of Cities Award.

“It says a lot for our community that people can sit down and eat together, and we can be recognized nationally for having that tenor of acceptance in our community for each other,” says Levy.

Doors will open for the dinner at 1 p.m. Sunday at McDougle School Cafetorium at 900 Old Fayetteville Rd. in Chapel Hill.

WCHLS’ Ron Stutts, as always, will be the MC for the event. Spanish translation will be provided by Mariyn Valeiko.

There will be food from Mama Dip’s, of course, as well as other participating restaurants and churches.

Entertainment will be provided by Karen Youth Dancers, Con Acento, The Blame it On My Youth Jazz Orchestra, and Terrell’s Creek Male Choir.

Tickets are $8 for adults, and $3 for kids.

To find ticket outlets, or to sign up to volunteer,you can visit