What is a ready-to-eat, culturally appropriate meal?

When refugees arrive to the RDU Airport after journeying thousands of miles on their first plane trip (usually), they are oftentimes hungry. As a way to serve them and greet them with open arms, a ready-to-eat, culturally appropriate meal is provided for them. This meal is to be offered to the newly arrived refugees when they first enter their new home.

  • What does "ready-to-eat" mean?

    • This means that the meal is ready to be consumed when refugees arrive to their apartment for the first time. The meal is to be fresh. However, if is not possible to keep the meal warm, the meal can be heated up at the refugees' new apartment. Warming of the meal would be done on the stove, using a pan, as most refugee apartments do not have microwaves. Welcome Teams would warm the meal for the refugees, as they are too tired at this point to learn how to warm it themselves, if they are unfamiliar with stoves. 

  • ​What does "culturally appropriate" mean?

    • ​This means that the meal is to be similar one that the refugees would consume in their home countries. The meal does not have to be exactly like one from their countries of origin, but it should be similar. WRD provides specific instructions for where to buy a meal culturally appropriate for each of the cultures with which we work. See "How do I know what to buy and from where to buy it from?" below. 

Who provides this meal?

  • Ideally, the Welcome Team provides this meal as a donation. If there is no Welcome Team for an incoming refugee or refugee family, an individual volunteer is encouraged to provide this meal.

  • Sometimes, the U.S. tie will provide the meal. If a Welcome Team is formed for an incoming refugee or refugee family, and the U.S. tie desires to provide the meal, WRD will inform the Welcome Team of this. 

  • If neither a Welcome Team, individual volunteer or a U.S. tie provides the meal, a community member (someone in the ethnic community of the incoming refugees) could provide the meal as a donation. 

  • Ultimately if none of the above are able to provide the meal, WRD is required to use money of the incoming refugee or refugee family to purchase a meal. 

Note: Welcome Teams and volunteers are required to keep their receipt from the purchased meal. They then need to scan it, and send it in to WRDvolunteer@wr.org no later than the day after the arrival. WRD can provide welcome teams and volunteers with a tax deduction form for their donations. 

How much food should I buy?

WRD will tell the Welcome Team or the individual volunteer the number of people in the incoming refugee family. One meal should be purchased per person. For example, if there are four people in the family, four meals should be purchased. Volunteers have the option of purchasing a family platter from a restaurant, as well, as long as it serves the number of people in the family.  

How does the Welcome Meal get from the purchaser to the refugee? 

  • Welcome Teams:

    • Teams will bring the meal with them to the airport when they pick up the refugees. They can leave the meal in the car, though. They will then bring the meal into the refugees' new apartment once they arrive after picking them up, and assist them with warming it up (if necessary).

What if newly-arrived refugees refuse to eat the meal?

Due to exhaustion, oftentimes refugees may refuse to eat the meal you have provided them. Sometimes sleeping is more desirable than eating! This is okay, and you can put the meal in the refrigerator and they can eat the meal tomorrow. Additionally, some refugees are skeptical that a meal does not meet their dietary restrictions (for example, if a Muslim refugee only eats Halal meat, he or she could be skeptical that the meal you are providing is not Halal, even if it is). You can reassure them that the meal does meet standards. If they refuse to believe you, that is okay. Remember how tired they are!


Contact WRDvolunteer@wr.org.