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Serving AAPI Communities

In the heart of culturally diverse Quincy, Massachusetts, Interfaith Social Services operates a vibrant food pantry with a high priority on fresh fruits and vegetables. Upon recognizing cultural preferences and different foods explicitly sold at local Chinese grocery stores, Executive Director Rick Doane began to think about solutions.

John Chen, Volunteer at Interfaith Social Services in Quincy
John Chen, one of the volunteer Chinese language interpreters for Interfaith Social Services, spends three days a week at the food pantry helping clients access the fruit and vegetables they need without the added frustration of a language barrier. 

“For too long, there was a perception of food insecurity that clients should take whatever food was available and they should be happy with what they received. That mentality is not kind, and it is not inclusive. We serve individuals from many different cultures.”

…. And individuals from different cultures like different ingredients! 

Interfaith already had interpreters to assist with the language barrier for Spanish and Portuguese-speaking families but lacked staff who knew Mandarin or Cantonese. In response to this challenge, Interfaith Social Services partnered with the City of Quincy and The Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center. Now, volunteer Mandarin and Cantonese interpreters are available every single day for visitors to the pantry.

The next phase of introducing culturally appropriate foods to the pantry included conducting surveys with clients to identify the fresh fruits and vegetables commonly used. As results roll in, Doane shares that he is grateful ingredients commonly found in Chinese cuisines, including bok choy, daikon radish, and soybeans, are becoming more readily available.

As Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month comes to a close, we are grateful to support agencies connecting communities to the culturally appropriate food they deserve.

“Our community is diverse.” Doane says, “And we can express our compassion by listening to our clients and making sure that the foods we distribute are foods which they and their family will use and enjoy.”

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