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Create opportunities to integrate UN refugees into the Southern Arizona community while raising awareness, educating the public, and strengthening the local food system by reducing local food waste and increasing food security.
Iskashitaa Refugee Network is an intergenerational network of Tucson volunteers and UN refugees from Asian, African, and Middle Eastern countries, who locate, harvest, and redistribute locally grown fruits and vegetables which would otherwise go to waste. IRN staff/volunteers create opportunities to empower recently arrived refugees by connecting them with a wide variety of resources to interact with the community. Through gleaning activities, refugees are introduced to local farms, hydroponic and aquaponics operations, farmers’ markets and other community festivities as well as backyard and community gardens. IRN teaches community members about sustainable food systems and fruit tree identification, harvesting techniques and seeks to increase food security and improve self-sufficiency among refugee households and other families in need. Refugees from the 30 different ethnic groups that IRN has worked with throughout its 14 year history, learn the geography of Tucson, gain valuable life skills, improve their English, develop a US work history and access to healthy foods and food preservation techniques.