Iskashitaa Refugee Network

Opportunity Type: 
Opportunity Description: 


Iskashitaa Refugee Network empowers refugees by creating opportunities to better integrate them with the larger Tucson community while gaining skills that serve them in America.


Iskashitaa Refugee Network (IRN) is an intergenerational network of Tucson volunteers and UN refugees from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, who locate, harvest, and re-distribute locally grown fruits and vegetables which would otherwise go to waste. IRN's goal is to empower recently arrived refugees by connecting them with a wide variety of resources and opportunities to interact with the community. Through gleaning activities, refugees are introduced to local farms, hydroponic and aquaponics operations, farmer’s markets and other community festivities as well as backyard and community gardens. IRN teaches community members about sustainable food systems and fruit tree identification, harvesting techniques and seeks to increase food security and improve self-sufficiency among refugee households and other families in need. Refugees from ~30 ethnic groups learn the geography of Tucson, gain valuable life skills, improve their English, develop a US work history and access to healthy foods and food preservation techniques.   

Iskashitaa operates the only year-round gleaning program in Southern Arizona and educates on the multiple uses of traditional and nontraditional, native and non-native fruits, nuts, pods, seeds, and even flowers. Harvests include over 20 types of citrus and an additional 50 of food products from trees, herbs, and cacti.

IRN builds bridges in the community toward increased cultural competency and diversity awareness.  All of Iskashitaa’s community relations have the underlying goal of increasing awareness and action for pressing human rights issues both locally and globally through direct contact with individuals and organizations in the Tucson community and beyond.

Iskashitaa is under the fiscal umbrella of St. Francis in the Foothills UMC, a federal501c3 organization. 

Engaged Learning Experience (ELE): 
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Engagement Category(s): 
Community Partnership
Creative Expression
Intercultural Exploration
Professional Development
Research Theme(s): 
Business and Economics
Climate and Adaptation
Environmental Arts and Humanities
Food Systems and Security
Informatics, Modeling, and Remote Sensing
Natural Environment and Biodiversity
Public Health
Science Engagement
Urban Environment