Iskashitaa News

Iskashitaa in the Arizona Daily Wildcat

Friday, March 07, 2014

Check out this article to hear about how Iskashitaa, the UA Community Garden, and the UA Campus Food Pantry are collaborating! 

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Plan Tucson Ratified

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

We are thrilled to share that Plan Tucson was ratified during the first full week of November. Thanks to the advocacy efforts of Iskashitaa, it includes a component on gleaning. Read more about the city's official ten-year plan here.

Faith-Based Organizations Put Their Faith in Action

Monday, July 08, 2013

Iskashitaa Refugee Network is grateful for the support of many faith-based organizations throughout Tucson and beyond.

Last month, Disciple Women's Ministries monies from the HAGAR Fund to help cover the expenses of our food preservation workshop program.  Iskashitaa hosts three workshops each month in which refugee women and men learn food handling standards in commercial kitchens. They utilize locally harvested produce to create specialty food items.  Refugee friends receive produce and kitchen equipment to take home, as well as knowledge that will help them on their path to self-sufficiency here in Tucson.  Sales of specialty food items only partially cover the costs of this program, so we are very grateful to Disciple Women's Ministries for their funding.

Lutheran Church of the Foothills donated funds last month to cover the cost of supplies for our English as a Second Language classes.  Iskashitaa volunteers teach classes in two apartment complexes that are refugee-populated, as well as in a refugee-owned daycare that serves primarily refugee clients.  These classes range from basic English for pre-literate adults to citizenship preparation for more advanced students preparing to take this challenging exam.  Thank you, Lutheran Church of the Foothills, for helping us purchase needed supplies for these classes.

Of course, there are other churches whose long-term support has been and remains critical to our success.  St. Francis in the Foothills UMC  is our fiscal sponsor.  They are providing office space, kitchen space, and administrative services, in addition to many active members who volunteer their time.  Our work would not be possible without them, and we can't thank them enough.  First United Methodist Church's partnership is described here and includes adult education presentations and alternative giving opportunities.Southside Presbyterian Church generously donates the use of their kitchen and walk-in cooler to Iskashitaa for our food preservation program.  Catalina UMC's youth group has volunteered with us many times in the past several years.  There are so many other faith-based organizations that have helped Iskashitaa in ways large and small over the years.  We thank you all.

If your congregation would like to become involved with Iskashitaa through gifts of time, talents, or treasures, please contact Natalie Brown at  We are always in need of financial support and volunteer support.  Please consider putting your faith in action with Iskashitaa Refugee Network.

Entreaty for Advance Warnings

Friday, June 28, 2013

Early in May Iskashitaa Refugee Network director Barbara Eiswerth received notice from Murat Kacira the U of A's Controlled Environment Agriculture Center that the lettuce from two full greenhouses would be sent to the composting facility within two days unless Iskashitaa could harvest it first.

The Refugee Network had never harvested lettuce before, let alone on two days notice! It was a mad scramble to recruit a crew of volunteers, procure vehicles, and muster some mismatched crates, buckets and coolers at the last minute, not to mention the tremendous challenge of finding people and organizations to take the gorgeous heads of lettuce before they wilted in the hot sun.

Upon arrival at the Iskashitaa headquarters it soon dawned on the sleepy volunteers that they would have to fine-tune their fast-paced cooperative improvisation and decision-making skills ASAP! What was the best way to harvest lettuce? Where would it go once picked? There were not enough coolers, or other suitable containers on hand to hold it all. How many trips would it take to transport the delicate greens in the two small pickup trucks available? How would we organize the distribution throughout the city immediately after the harvest? It was truly harrowing, and yet, amazingly, many families in need were ultimately able to enjoy deliciously fresh lettuce that day!

Iskashitaa is extremely grateful to all the people and organizations that afford the Network the possibility of providing people in need with food that would otherwise go to waste. And at the same time, we would like to ask all these generous providers to kindly give us as much advance warning as possible, so that we can actually get the most food to people who need it, without suffering from a heart attack in the process!

Dena Ellen Cowan
Editor Iskashitaa Newsletter