The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is investing $2 million in its On the Table initiative to keep mealtime community conversations going nationwide, including in Akron.

The initiative brought 40,000 residents in 10 cities together last year to talk about community problems. The new funding will continue the conversations for another two years.

“On the Table is a surging effort to reinvent public dialogue,” Lilly Weinberg, Knight Foundation director for community foundations, said in a prepared statement. “In its first year, the national effort brought together thousands of people to meet and discuss difficult and sometimes contentious issues face-to-face. Participants worked to build connections and consensus, identify solutions to local challenges, and use these results to influence decision-makers. In its next phase, we hope to see these conversations translate to deeper local action.”

As part of the program, first launched in 2013 by the Chicago Community Trust, residents gather for mealtime conversations and discuss ways to better their neighborhoods. They can talk about myriad challenges, including race relations, affordable housing and urban design.

The meals took place in cities that once had Knight-supported newspapers. In addition to Akron, the other cities are Charlotte, N.C.; Columbus, Ga.; Detroit; Gary, Ind.; Lexington, Ky.; Long Beach, Calif.; Miami; Philadelphia; and San Jose, Calif.

Last year, On the Table Greater Akron inspired 505 organizations and individuals to open up their libraries, churches, businesses, parks, cafes and homes to host an estimated 950 conversations centering on the biggest challenges and opportunities in Summit and Medina counties.

On the Table Greater Akron officials plan to release a report with results from last year’s conversations at the end of April.

This year, the initiative will involve community foundations: the Akron Community Foundation in Akron, Foundation for the Carolinas in Charlotte, N.C.; Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley in Columbus, Ga.; Legacy Foundation in Gary, Ind.; Blue Grass Community Foundation in Lexington, Ky.; Community Foundation of Central Georgia in Macon; The Miami Foundation in Miami; Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties in Palm Beach, Fla.; Philadelphia Foundation in Philadelphia and Silicon Valley Community Foundation in San Jose, Calif.

Each city will schedule one day when it will convene thousands of residents to share both a meal and ideas on how to make their city a better place to live and work.