The Iskashitaa Refugee Network Reduces Food Waste and Feeds People

Iskashitaa Refugee Network, an organization that stands for human rights, human dignity and hope for that part of our community suffering from food insecurity.

This grassroots organization was founded in 2003 by Barbara Eiswerth of Tucson.  Iskashitaa builds bridges with partners in the communities to increase awareness of the local food system and action for pressing humanitarian relief efforts.

It is the only year-round gleaning network in Southern Arizona, headquartered in Tucson. We harvest more than 100 kinds of native and non-native fruits, vegetables, nuts, pods, edible weeds and flowers, and cacti. Our network of volunteers and UN Refugee volunteers harvest from backyards, farms, gardens, orchards, greenhouses all over Metro Tucson and a little beyond.

The harvest is shared with food banks, shelters, schools, soup kitchens and hundreds of the UN Refugee families, predominately in the Tucson area. Most recently we have made efforts to also donate to rural food banks and pantries in Santa Cruz, Cochise and Pima Counties.

In this outreach of sharing the backyard bounty, Iskashitaa Refugee Network touches the lives of the refugees, interns, volunteers, and partner agencies in our community. Food-insecure individuals and families are given access to healthy food, opportunities to improve their English, valuable life skills and the dignity of giving back to the community that has taken them in. The refugee families gain self-sufficiency and food security.

With the staggering statistic of 1 in 4 in Pima County suffering from hunger and the rampant food waste taking place at the same time, Iskashitaa Refugee Network is a shining example of helping those in need and tackling the food waste issue.

If you would like to donate for a better more resilient tomorrow, visit or donate fruit from your trees or vegetables from your garden please go to If you would like to donate your talents contact Kate at

Together let’s help feed people instead of landfills. To spread the word through your networks or on the new Nextdoor app (neighborhood hub – for arranging small group harvests contact Valerie at Tel (520)440-0100. We will continue, like food banks to provide emergency food for refugees and others including our struggling farmers.

By Christina Early, Board Member, Democrats of Greater Tucson

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