Thank you to everyone who organised a Cook 2 Connect dinner and supported JRS’ work with people seeking asylum

Iranian meal for cook2connect refugee week fundraiser

Thank you to everyone who donned their chef’s hats and got involved. We’re so happy to hear that our delicious recipe, Adas Polo, an Iranian speciality, was a hit with your guests and left everyone asking for more!

35 Cook 2 Connect fundraising dinners were registered last Refugee week (June 17th-23rd) to raise funds for JRS Australia so we can continue accompanying and providing crucial services to people seeking asylum in need.

Thank you to everyone who donned their chef’s hats and got involved. We’re so happy to hear that our delicious recipe, Adas Polo, an Iranian speciality, was a hit with your guests and left everyone asking for more!

A delicious and meaningful recipe

Once a week, at the JRS Arrupe Community Centre in Parramatta, people take it in turns to cook a beloved dish to share with everyone. In celebration of Refugee Week and as part of our Cook 2 Connect fundraiser, we decided to share a community centre favourite, Adas Polo, a delicious dish from Iran.

The recipe was put together by the collaboration of several women seeking asylum who frequent the JRS Community Centre and cook regularly as part of our Cooking Together program, where everyone is able to share in each other’s cuisine from around the world.

“We spent time together cooking this dish several times, testing out different quantities, taking photos of the process, translating words and then transcribing it into a written recipe. In the end around 5 different women contributed to this recipe,” said Joanna Brooke, JRS Australia’s Community Development Officer. “I was the apprentice chef in the kitchen, under careful instructions from the women as they taught me to cook this dish step by step.”

Adas Polo, is a well-known and loved recipe in Iran. We chose this recipe as it’s simple, relatively inexpensive and can easily be adapted to be both vegetarian and vegan. One of the women involved in creating the recipe described Adas Polo as “the Iranian Spaghetti Bolognese for the family”. It’s easy to throw together, it’s healthy, delicious and always a favourite.

A great success

Here’s what people who hosted a dinner had to say:

“Cook2Connect was a great initiative by JRS and allowed members of the community to engage in something meaningful and fun for Refugee Week. This event allows people to celebrate the connection of food and culture and the value and richness it brings to our lives. Not a lot of my friends had Persian food before and this was a great opportunity to discuss the diverseness of cultures in our community and some of the backgrounds of people who may seek asylum. The recipe was delicious and everyone loved the spices in the rice dish.”

Kristina, Centennial Park

“One of the best fundraising activities I’ve been involved in.”

Emma, Dulwich Hill

“Very positive experience.”

Julie, North Sydney

Why the event was so important for people seeking asylum

Food is a basic need. But sharing food does more than just providing sustenance for our bodies, it provides it for our communities too. Society segments us in many ways—by race, by gender, by religion, by class, by ability and by education.

But breaking bread breaks down these barriers. Gathering around a table to share a meal can radically shift people’s perspectives and has been proven to make people see others as equals.

The hosts of our Cook 2 Connect fundraising event helped to educate guests about the plight of people seeking asylum and helped to break down misconceptions about one of the most vulnerable and at the same time resilient,  groups in our society.

This is more important than ever as the government has now started to cut off many people seeking asylum from Status Resolution Support Services Payments (SRSS) support, an essential lifeline that provides both income support and other essential services.

The government has reassessed people seeking asylum and receiving payments and those found to be ‘work ready’ are now required to immediately find work in order to survive.

What the government is forgetting when making these decisions is that people seeking asylum want to work and meaningfully contribute to society, but finding work is hard at the best of times. By slashing support, and giving people under a month to find a job, the government is manufacturing situations of systemic poverty, destitution, and homelessness. The panic and fear being felt among people already cut off from this vital lifeline, as well as those still at risk of losing SRSS support, is plunging them into further despair and hopelessness.

You can still get involved

Just because it’s no longer Refugee Week, it doesn’t mean you can’t host your own Cook 2 Connect fundraising dinner. Just email joanna.brooke@jrs.org.au and we can send you our resources pack including the delicious Adas Polo recipe.

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