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Sanctuary Kitchen program brings refugees and community together through food

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — New Haven is a sanctuary city, and there is now a program for refugees called Sanctuary Kitchen. Cooking is part of it, but it’s about more than just food.

Mona Asweid, a Syrian refugee, made dinner for more than a dozen people at a dinner party on Thursday night. Her mother, Didar, helped her. They came to the U.S. in January. This was no ordinary dinner party, however. The gathering was through Sanctuary Kitchen, a program started earlier this year to bring refugees who have come to Connecticut and the community together through food.

“[I hope] that everyone in the world can taste what [I] can cook,” Asweid said through a translator.

Guests got more than just a meal, they got an education. Refugees, like Asweid, share their cooking, culture and stories at these gatherings. Kristen Talwalkar and her family hosted the dinner.

“This is really important, especially right now in this political climate, to show that we are supporting our friends and our neighbors,” Talwalkar said.

Asweid made foods that are popular in Damascus. People from the New Haven area learned about the food and tried it, coming together to share a meal.

“Food has a way of bringing people together,” said Sumiya Khan of Sanctuary Kitchen. “By coming together over food, it really brings a different perspective to people who might be considered different.”

Asweid joined everyone at the dinner table and was part of the conversation. It was a way to get connected with her new community, and share something that’s important to her and her family.

“It’s true that there are many good cooks everywhere, but [I’m] very proud of [my] cooking and [I] want everyone to taste it,” Asweid said.

Sanctuary Kitchen works with refugees from several different countries. The program also helps them share their cooking through demonstrations and classes.

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