Shopping in the United States can be dramatically different for many newcomers. Volunteers can take the lead in  helping newcomers learn how to shop in their new communities. See attached country summaries for a brief  description of the country of origin, language, customs, and food/cuisine. Task 1 – prearrival and Task 2 Housing is  usually handled by resettlement agencies. They will collect needed household items, furniture, and cleaning supplies. They also usually do food item shopping to initially stock the refrigerator. A typical native meal or  ingredients for native meals are always a great first night gesture.  

Volunteers can provide transportation to local markets that have the kind of ingredients newcomers are used to.  Volunteers can connect with resettlement caseworkers, other refugees from the same area, and simply do internet  searches for specialty food shops or those markets that have usable ingredients. Volunteers can also provide  information on how make purchases (See Task#13 for financial literacy – bank accounts, credit/debit cards etc…).  

As an example of food and drink:  

Afghanistan: The food in Afghanistan is a mix between Middle Eastern, Asian, and Indian. It includes a lot of fruit  and nuts, as well as rice and lamb. Yogurt is also used as a topping, like how cheese is used in the United States 

Democratic Republic of Congo. A typical meal might include cassava leaves, beans, and a starch. This starch can be  made of maize or cassava flour, or a mix of the two, and is referred to as ugali or fufu, depending on the location in  the DRC. If a family has the resources, they may also serve meat like lamb or beef. Many Congolese who are not  Muslim drink alcohol. Beer (a traditional brew made from banana or sorghum) has important social value for the  Congolese, who believe that it unites people and fosters friendship. No important ceremony is ended without  drinking beer or sprinkling it on the ground to honor ancestors. 

El Salvador: For a Salvadorian family, teach them where they can buy ingredients for pupusas. Ingredients: Made  from masa dough, the base for tortillas, tamales and other Latin cooking staples, pupusas are thick corn cakes filled  with a variety of ingredients such as pork, chicken, cheese or beans. For certain, they are always served with  curtido, a wonderfully crunchy and tangy cabbage slaw, and a simple red salsa. 

Myanmar. Typically, people from Myanmar eat boiled rice accompanied by curry and condiments. The early  morning meal may consist of fried leftover rice or steamed sticky rice, eaten with sesame and finely ground salt,  boiled beans, and sometimes grilled dried fish. In the urban areas, breakfast might be bread and jam or Indian  naan (flatbread) with boiled beans. The midday meal is usually rice and some kind of curry, which for the more  well-to-do may be a meat dish accompanied by stir-fried vegetables and a soup. More side dishes, such as various  fermented fish paste dips (eaten with boiled vegetables) and other meat or vegetable dishes, may be served,  depending on the family’s income. 

Related Websites 

  1. BBC Country Profiles,
  2. 14 Traditional Afghan Foods Everyone Should Try,
  3. Top 20 Most Popular Foods in Congo,
  4. Salvadoran Food: 20 Must-Try Traditional Dishes of El Salvador,
  5. Burmese Food: 12 Must-Try Traditional Dishes of Myanmar,

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