Wednesday, June 20 was World Refugee Day, a day to “commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance” (http://www.un.org/en/events/refugeeday/) of the approximately 68.5 million forcibly displaced people around the world. It comes at a time when refugees and immigrants are facing increasing hostility from the federal government and nationalist administrations all over the world. The horrors of family separation at the US-Mexico border are only the latest installment.
Our neighbors who are refugees, immigrants and New Americans enrich and support Foodlink’s programs in so many ways. Food is our common language and shared mission. Students from Rochester International Academy grow over 5,000 vegetable and flower seedlings a year for Lexington Avenue Urban Farm, which nearly 60 refugee families have transformed into the largest and most productive community garden in Rochester. We are also privileged to work with refugee youth and families through Education Success Foundation’s Neighborhood Arts program in nutrition classes and a new community and teaching garden. Many of our member agencies, like Mary’s Place LLC, serve these communities as well. And we should not forget that much of the 19 million pounds of food that Foodlink distributes each year was grown and prepared by immigrants.
Refugees and immigrants represent the best of the American dream, and deserve the opportunity to build safe, healthy and happy lives for their families. At Foodlink, we believe that our communities are strongest and most vibrant when we accept and welcome all people.
We stand with our refugee and immigrant brothers, sisters and siblings and oppose any inhumane and immoral policies targeting their communities. These include, but are not limited to, family separation and the proposed indefinite family detention that may replace it, the elimination of domestic and gang violence as grounds for asylum, the multiple revocations of temporary protected status for those fleeing natural disaster and the overall reduction of the number of refugees accepted into this country. We encourage you to call your elected officials (Dial 1.888.398.8702 to connect with your representative’s office) and voice your opposition to these policies, and your support for those coming to this country to seek a better future.