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Press Release: Partnerships to Help Afghan Refugees

Open Table and International Institute of New England Partner to Provide Food Relief to Afghan Refugees in Lowell

Regional food relief effort seeks culturally relevant food donations

Concord and Maynard, MA (December 14, 2021) – Open Table today announced a partnership with International Institute of New England (IINE), a nonprofit organization dedicated to refugee and immigrant services, to bring food relief to Afghan evacuees currently sheltered in Lowell. Open Table has made an initial donation of 2600 pounds of food, which includes culturally relevant items that will enable refugees to prepare familiar meals.

For a full list of food desired for the Afghan refugees, visit:

IINE has placed Afghan evacuees in housing in Lowell and requests support to provide meals. As a regional food relief organization, Open Table has stepped in to fill this need for the next two months until all the Afghan families are resettled. At that point, the families will be connected to local food relief organizations and also to SNAP. 

Caroline Hanson-Rowe, Managing Director, of IINE in Lowell, states, “Since October, we have welcomed 140 Afghans to Lowell. Many are temporarily in hotels and in need of meal service. We are thankful to Open Table for their support.”

Since most cultures do not eat canned food, IINE has created a comprehensive grocery list of non-perishable foods for these Afghan families, such as rice, loose tea, spices and baking supplies.

In addition, Open Table is partnering with local libraries to create a Spice Bank Drive to source these expensive, yet essential, components of native Afghan recipes. Individuals are encouraged to donate unopened spices so that refugee families can maintain as sense of cultural identity and family traditions. Items needed include: hot pepper flakes and sauce, turmeric, cardamon, coriander, cumin, poppy seeds, and ginger powder, as well as baking powder, baking soda, dry yeast and black and green tea leaves.