October 27, 2022
Welcomed with Culturally-Appropriate Food

Welcomed with Culturally-Appropriate Food

“I would say I’m the luckiest”

New American, Hedayat Arya, spoke to NECN & NBC10 Boston’s Jack Thurston for the new story: A Taste of Home: Nonprofits Deliver Culturally-Appropriate Food to Afghan Refugees

In the past forty years, an estimated 8,000 refugees have resettled in Vermont – most concentrated in the cities of Burlington and Winooski, within Chittenden County. Winooski is the state’s most diverse town, where the school district teaches students from twenty-five difference countries, speaking nineteen languages. The COVID-19 pandemic caused this program to slow drastically, but numbers are back on the rise as a new wave of Afghan refugees have resettled in the Green Mountain State. In the last year, 220 refugees from Afghanistan now call Vermont home.

Food insecurity has been one of the most glaring issues for New Americans through the pandemic and remains a threat to their basic needs. Emergency food relief provided to New Americans often contains foods that people are not familiar with how to cook or prepare, which doesn’t leave families much better off.

With your support, Feeding Chittenden’s Food Access Center is working to change that by intentionally sourcing and delivering culturally appropriate foods to New Americans and newly arrived Afghan refugees. These culturally appropriate food boxes contain food items popular amongst this community, such as rice and dry beans, meat slaughtered under appropriate religious guidelines, and fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices commonly used traditional cooking.

Hedayat Arya is a refugee from Afghanistan who arrived in Vermont in recent months. He spoke to NECN & NBC10 Boston’s Jack Thurston about how the help he has received from Feeding Chittenden has helped to welcome him to the state, “I am really enjoying being here in Vermont. We are feeling here like we are in our own home.”

“Feeding Chittenden is doing an outstanding job, because when a new arrival is coming, initially they don’t have access to the markets,” Arya said, “It’s somehow giving a feeling to them that you are safe— that there is no food insecurity for you.” Your support makes this work possible.

Like many New Americans, Hedayat’s journey to Vermont was heart wrenching. Under threat from the Taliban, he was forced to leave his wife and three children, his home, and his contractor job building schools for girls. He is currently searching for a way to bring his family here.

Hedayat is now working as translator, helping others from Afghanistan navigate their new home here in Vermont and find jobs. These New Americans are grateful to have familiar and nutritious food on their plates, he told Jack Thurston from NECN & NBC10 Boston. Thank you for all you do to care for our neighbors in need.

Feeding Champlain Valley