BLACKWOOD, N.J. (CBS) – The owner of one of Philadelphia’s most popular cheesesteak outlets is encouraging area schoolkids to promote world peace by learning about the cultures of other nations — including their foods.

(Foods from many lands were shared to promote cultural understanding.)

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Entrepreneur Tony Luke (above) recently opened cheesesteak outlets in the Middle East (Bahrain and Afghanistan) and has plans for others, and he says it opened his eyes to cultural differences and similarities.

Today, he was promoting his first annual “Eat 4 Peace Day” at a school in Blackwood, NJ.

He told the fourth grade class at Loring-Flemming Elementary School about opening restaurants in the Middle East and how, in the process, he had the opportunity to meet with the locals for a potluck dinner.

“And all of a sudden I realized that I didn’t look at them any differently than me, they didn’t look at me any differently,” he recalls.  “We were just talking about food and all the walls came down.”

Today, the children in Mrs. Quigley’s class brought foods from their own ethnic backgrounds.  One student, Carmen Taylor, persuaded her mother to bring in food from Liberia.

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“She was really excited,” says Mauhn Taylor.  “She was like, ‘Mom, don’t forget! Are you making the greens and rice?’   And I said, ‘Carmen, don’t worry, I have it under control.’ ”

The kids enjoyed trying all the food.

“Biscotti, Italian stuffing, the Philippine noodles…” said one student, Cole, describing the foods he had chosen.

Luke is hoping people will go to his web site, eat4peace.com, to understand his mission and to learn about future activities.

Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio 1060

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