The NAACP wants to make sure Rutland’s soul is fed.

The Rutland branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will hold its third Soul Food Potluck Sunday — a series of events it launched in February.

“It’s a community gathering,” Caitlin Gildrien, one of the branch’s officers, said Friday. “It’s open to everyone. You do not have to be a member. You do not have to be a person of color.”

Alderwoman Lisa Ryan, the branch’s first vice president, said the organization wants to stress inclusivity in the country’s divisive climate.

“The real point of having this is to bring together the community and that means all the community — people of different backgrounds and views — to create a sense of belonging for everybody,” Ryan said. “I think from a general standpoint, there’s not much diversity and people of color in general in this region. For those of us who are, it gives us a chance to see that we have allies. ... I think it’ll kind of strengthen that vision that we can come together.”

Gildrien said about 80 people attended each of the first two potlucks, and the organization will conduct a survey at Sunday’s event on what form future potlucks should take, such as whether they should continue to be simple gatherings over food or whether they should feature more formal programs with guest speakers.

The inaugural pot luck, in February, featured a spread ranging from expected dishes like mac and cheese, collard greens and black-eyed peas to out-of-theme offerings like hummus and empanadas.

“People are invited to bring dishes from the traditional Southern soul-food tradition or just food that feeds your soul,” Gildrien said. “You also don’t have to bring anything. We’ll have plenty of extra.”

The event runs from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Grace Congregational Church’s Fellowship Hall.


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