Good Food News - A Refugee's First Thanksgiving
The New York Times writes about the public and private funding that the State Department and nine independent agencies use to sponsor and shepherd refugees through their first year of American life, providing money, clothing, shelter and guidance on everything from groceries to GEDs. From the day of arrival, food is an integral part of the adjustment to a new country.
On the State Department’s list of things that sponsors must provide immediately is a “culturally appropriate” meal for the family. This can run the gamut from simple to complicated. Volunteers have made chicken moambe for Rwandans and injera for an Eritrean mother and children tastes that would be both welcoming and familiar.
These meals can have a lot of power for refugees. Said Fereshteh Ganjavi, who arrived from Afghanistan in 2013, “We were living in a camp before entering the U.S., and I had almost forgotten the taste of our own food,” she said.
Dima King is cooking his first Thanksgiving dinner after arriving in the US and seeking asylum from anti-gay persecution in Russia. He loves the underlying message of charity and humanity in Thanksgiving, and says “Of course, that is a holiday I want to cook for.” Mr. King is a graduate of Emma’s Torch (another of our Good Food News story highlights), a nonprofit restaurant in Brooklyn, that teaches refugees culinary skills.
These immigrants and refugees understand that cooking a Thanksgiving dinner is part of the passage to American life and I hope we all have room at our tables for them.