Refugees glean help for themselves, others by harvesting fruit

Refugees glean help for themselves, others by harvesting fruit
The Iskashitaa Refugee Network collects 500 pounds of produce a week. (Source: KOLD News 13)

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The simple but sometimes difficult act of picking produce is helping refugees in Tucson by filling their bellies and helping them with socialization.

Iskashitaa has been in Tucson for 15 years. The harvesting program helps United Nations refugees and asylum seekers who have resettled in Tucson. The refugees come from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Refugees and volunteers with Iskashitaa pick fruits and vegetables around Tucson as part of the harvesting and gleaning program. Much of the harvesting happens at homes, so the surplus fresh produce doesn’t go to waste.

The program also helps with socialization for the refugees.

Dr. Barbara Eiswerth, the founder of Iskashitaa, says when refugees come to Tucson they can isolate themselves from the community because of the language and cultural barriers. Harvesting produce gets them out of their home.

The harvesters get to pick and taste the food. In some cases, the food may remind the refugees of their native land.

The group collects 500 pounds of produce a week and has donated to more than 15 food banks. They shared between the food banks, schools and the refugees and their families.

This group needs help form the community and is looking for more volunteers to drive trucks and pick produce. If you would like to help, visit the Iskashitaa Refugee Network website.

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