Combating loneliness over a shared meal at Gigi’s Cafe

a group of people gather in a cafe
Arthur Berman speaks to the group of people at the Communal Table at Gigi’s Cafe.
Courtesy of Anna Bonavita

There’s an epidemic of loneliness across the country.

With half of U.S. adults reporting some form of social isolation, one Minnesotan decided to act by combating loneliness with food.

Anna Bonavita has had her own battles with loneliness, which inspired her to bring communal meals to the Twin Cities.

“When I was living in Italy for two years, I survived because of the communal tables there,” Bonavita said. “This was a communal table where the meals that were shared were made of the best possible ingredients and cooked with love and shared with love between people.” 

Bonavita created the Communal Table in 2018 with the help of a Minneapolis co-op, but the pandemic placed her weekly gatherings on pause until Dec. 2023. That’s when Bonavita decided her community needed her weekly communal dinner to return.  

Over the last three months, Bonavita said the group has continued to grow and attract people from all walks of life.

“It has three elements: healthy meals, the conversation and then we bring local talents [such as] musicians, dancers and local authors,” she said. “We share everything, and this gives opportunities for people to come back for more.” 

The Communal Table meets every Thursday at Gigi’s Cafe from 6-8 p.m. in Minneapolis.

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