Raleigh, NC — For weeks, the nightly news was filled with images of families fleeing Afghanistan as the Taliban took over after the fall of the government following the American military evacuation. Scenes of terror and desperation were rampant as people escaped what for many was an unthinkable reality. Planeloads of men, women, and children began arriving in the United States, and agencies began working feverishly to find homes and basic necessities for families who had left their homes, often with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. In the Triangle area, Lutheran Services Carolinas (LSC) has stepped up to welcome 200 Afghan refugees and is in the process of securing for them homes and other necessities. When the enormity of the issue of providing food for these new members of the community became a reality, Chris McLaren, Outreach Coordinator for Refugee and Immigrant Services at LSC, reached out to Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, and a natural partnership was formed.
With the food assistance of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and their extensive experience with addressing the needs of food insecure communities, the Afghan families who are facing so many challenges—health, transportation, work, communication, to name a few—will not have to focus on where they will get their next meals. Within hours of their first agreement with LSC, the Food Shuttle had already ordered 800 pounds of halal meat (meat that is permitted by Islamic law) to start providing to the families who were being settled. The issue of cultural familiarity of food extends beyond what is permitted. While the Afghan refugees escaped extremely dangerous situations, most still miss the tastes and smells of home. Familiar foods help soothe the body and the spirit and makes the transition to a new community that much easier.
“There is no better time for Inter-Faith Food Shuttle to stand alongside Lutheran Services Carolinas to support the newest members of our community,” said L. Ron Pringle, President and CEO of Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. “From our humble beginnings as an organization, it was about two women who saw a need and met a need. It is with that same spirit that the Food Shuttle responds today. We continue to redefine what community taking care of community looks like as we look to respond not only to the immediate needs our neighbors face, but also the tough work of tackling the root causes of hunger.”
There are currently 50,000 Afghan refugees who have been evacuated into the U.S. Various agencies are working to help find homes for the men, women, and children who were initially brought to U.S. military bases. In the Triangle area, Lutheran Services Carolinas is facing a deadline of December 31, 2021 to resettle 200 individuals— 60% of whom are under the age of 10– into more permanent housing, with assistance from other agencies in providing furnishings, transportation, job placement, health screenings, and other transitional services.
“All of this requires financial backing, and little if any of it was planned for when the organizations involved were drawing up their budgets last year,” said LSC President Ted Goins. “Support from the community is needed to ensure success for efforts to help these families transition into their new homes. Inter-Faith Food Shuttle has set up a crowdfunding site for members of the community to donate toward food and supplies to continue to feed the Afghan families until they are settled into the area. Anyone wishing to donate can visit our campaign website.
For more ways to help our Afghan refugees, click here.
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