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      Hundreds of schools to 'mix it up' at lunch

      Nearly 300 Illinois schools are planning to participate in National Mix It Up at Lunch Day to prevent bullying.

      Nearly 300 Illinois schools are planning to participate in National Mix It Up at Lunch Day to prevent bullying.

      Schools across the state will take part Tuesday in the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance Project exercise.

      The event encourages students to sit with someone new in the cafeteria for just one day. Teaching Tolerance started the program in 2002 to "foster respect and understanding" among students.

      Officials say cafeterias are the focus of the program because that's where a school's "social boundaries" are most obvious. They say breaking down those barriers can help reduce bullying and create a school environment that is safe and in which students can feel welcome.