Meals and Conversation: Building Bridges One Meal at a Time
Around the International Institute of New England, Meg Glazer is known as the leader of the “Ladies Who Bring Lunch.” Since April, a group of eight to 10 women has volunteered their time once a month at Meg’s home to prepare and deliver culturally appropriate, packed lunches for 50 students attending English classes at IINE Boston.
In addition to providing meals, the women spend two hours during each visit in conversation with IINE beneﬁciaries, creating an opportunity for them to practice English. “Each meal, and each time we do this is diﬀerent,” Meg said. “We never know how many people will show up, but we want to be there
All of the women are members of South Shore Action, a group of 250 individuals who came together following the 2016 election to focus on issues that mattered to them such as freedom of the press, healthcare, the environment, and civil rights. Meg serves as the Civil Rights Committee Chair. After the President issued the ﬁrst travel ban, she helped shift the group’s focus to supporting immigrants and refugees.
Through social media and a conversation with another IINE volunteer, Meg found her way to the Institute’s Boston site oﬃce to understand what role the group could take in aiding the global refugee crisis. Together, the International Institute and South Shore Action developed “Meals and Conversation: Building Bridges and Breaking down Walls One Meal at a Time.” Many recently arrived refugees rely on cash assistance beneﬁts and sometimes do not have enough money for healthy meals. This is particularly true in their earl months in the U.S. before they learn English and ﬁnd their ﬁrst jobs.
The opportunity to practice English and share a meal builds a personal bond between supporters from South Shore Action and the new Americans in our programming. “We want the refugee and immigrant clients to know that there are many people who are invested in helping them integrate into their new communities,” Meg explained.