Food Initiatives to Support Haitian Refugees

Refugees Cooking for Themselves
When LexRAP president Bruce Neumann suggested that LexRAP find a way to enable the Haitian refugees housed in Lexington to cook for themselves, volunteers Jilana Abrams, Babs Freedman, and Ethan Kiczek eagerly stepped up. What was needed was a kitchen where families could prepare food and take it back to where they were staying.


“We believed that cooking familiar food and sharing it privately as a family would bring some normalcy to what are very unnormal circumstances,” explained Ethan.
 
The team approached Rev. Anne Mason, Senior Minister at First Parish, about using their facility. LexRAP had utilized this kitchen for other initiatives and realized it would work perfectly.


Interested families were identified and drivers were coordinated by Babs. First, participants were taken to Market Basket to purchase ingredients.

 

a haitian delicacy

“They really astonished the butcher, wanting things like turkey feet and innards,” Jilana notes with a chuckle. “They also used incredible amounts of garlic. The food they prepared was intensely spicy. A real treat to try.”

I loved everything about this experience,” says Babs. “The conversation in our car rides, watching the families pay at the checkout independently, hearing the laughter and chatter between new friends, feeling the love and gratitude – the genuine human connection. It was wonderful.”

The Lexington Food Panty Contributes 

As part of its social action initiative, Lexington’s Church of Our Redeemer hosts the Lexington Interfaith Food Pantry, which has been serving the families of Lexington since 1990.

To provide refugees with this food, an online order form was created exclusively for our population. Next, LexRAP established a pool of drivers – volunteers from LexRAP and the LexSheltered Families coalition (churches and other social-justice-minded groups in our community) – to bring the food to the refugees. Twenty-five families are receiving items every Saturday. On average, 150 bags each week are being delivered.

“We’re now working to involve the families in this process,” notes Ethan. “For example, the refugees are now moving the groceries from the cars into the distribution area. Eventually, we hope they can assume more responsibility. We want to give them a feeling of autonomy.”

He continues, “The families are so grateful. Every Saturday I get three or four messages on WhatsApp saying thank you – and a few hugs when they pick up the food. It’s gratifying.”

paper bags inside a car

Food Truck Delivers a Meal
Ethan also thought to look for Haitian food in the area and found Gourmet Kreyol of Burlington, which provided a free meal for 80 people with their food truck. To learn more about them, visit their website. Haitian beverages were procured at Liam’s Market of Waltham
 
“If not for LexRAP’s presence in the community I wouldn’t have been aware of this need,” says Jilana. “And so many people and faith-based organizations in town have stepped up. Lexington is blessed with diversity and with loving, caring, open-minded residents. There’s been an outpouring of support and volunteerism that has been a joy to participate in.”
 
Concludes Mary Diaz-Przybyl, LexRAP volunteer coordinator, “This project is an example of LexRAP volunteers knowing how to listen, respond to client needs, and build relationships. I’m not at all surprised that Jilana, Babs, and Ethan have taken a leadership role and done so much in such a short period of time.”

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Get Involved

Interested in volunteering with LexRAP? We are currently seeking volunteers to assist in any way possible, with either major or modest time commitments. All assistance is welcome. Complete our volunteer intake form.
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