Iskashitaa Refugee Network’s Food for Thought pot luck



Iskashitaa Refugee Network is a grass roots organization that helps rebuild refugee lives through our partnerships with volunteers and local organizations.  Staff and volunteers unite refugees and the community through unique programs designed to empower the refugees.  Programs emphasize community connections, sharing, and English language practice to build community of refugees and volunteers.   Iskashitaa has also worked to build a networking community among Tucson area refugee volunteers and agencies.

Recently I attended a talk about this Iskashitaa Refugee Network. “Iskashitaa” is a Somali Bantu word for  “working cooperatively together”.   One of their core programs is harvesting nutritious food from people’s backyards & local farms, which are then redistributed to the refugee families and & other Tucson organizations helping families in need. Their motto: “No Fruit Left Behind.”

Average annual harvest is estimated at 75,000 lbs, from over 20 citrus varieties and 40 non-citrus fruits/nuts/vegetables (including pumpkins & squash).  Some of their key harvesting partners are the Community Food Bank, Tohono Chul Park, Native Seeds/SEARCH, Buckelew Farm, Tucson Botanical Garden, Forever Young Farm, Brown’s Orchard, etc.

Iskashitaa serves refugees from Afghanistan, Armenia, Bhutan, Bosnia, Burma, Burundi, Cameroon,Central African Republic, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, The Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nepal, Russia, Rwanda, Sierra Leon,  Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Togo.

Neighbors — if you have extra fruit/vegetables in your backyards, these are the people who could come & pick them for you. Please don’t let them just drop & rot.   Don’t know who to contact? Here it is: or call 520-440-1000.

Coming up this week is a community pot luck on Wed. May 28, 6 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 915 E. 4th St. (at Park Ave, west of UA).

Come participate in a night of cross-cultural exchange as refugees share traditional dishes from their home countries! We hope you will join us for this valuable opportunity to converse and build community. Use a family recipe and bring a dish to pass! Parking in the First UMC lot will be free, but please carpool if possible. RSVP to Stephanie by calling 440-0100 or emailing


More info about donating fruits/vegetables/money or volunteering to harvest or assist in other ways go to their website: or

Rain Crow Gallery at 204 W. Grant (NW corner of Castro Ave., west of Oracle Rd.) has their refugee-made crafts for sale.  This small art gallery features all local art, “bringing together the diverse Tucson community and unique, handcrafted pieces from local artists in a comfortable and inviting environment.”  Parking is in the back or east side of the gallery.

Iskashitaa’s office is at 1406 E.  Grant, phone 520-440-1000, email is

Previous articleScientific Innovation: cover the CAP canal with solar panels
Next articleNinth Circuit Court of Appeals to hear same-sex marriage appeals from Idaho and Nevada in September
Carolyn Classen
Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, (since Jan. 2013).


  1. About 50 people there tonight to enjoy this multi-cultural pot luck with food/recipes from Iraq, Egypt, Nepal, Poland, Greece, India, etc. and of course good old American food and my dessert dish from Hawaii. Barbara Eiswerth (E.D.) thanked everyone for helping all year, and gave special recognition to some of the special volunteers. Remember to please donate extra fruit/vegetables you may have growing in your yard or farm to this worthy group.

Comments are closed.