Riverland serves Haitian lunch; raises $100 for Haiti

Published 6:48 am Wednesday, February 3, 2010

In a small Midwestern cafeteria Tuesday afternoon, students ate griot (Haitian roasted pork), red rice and beans and a Haitian vegetable salad.

The ethnic meal was provided by Riverland Community College’s chapter of Amnesty International. For between $4 and $5, many on campus helped themselves to healthy servings of the Haitian staples — and in turn, provided for those in the earthquake-ravaged nation. All proceeds will go to Haiti.

“We are a human rights organization, so it is natural for us to do something for those in need in Haiti,” said Amnesty International faculty advisor Marie Lechelt.

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The group, which has 15 core members, bought groceries for the meal at Hy-Vee Monday evening and spent four hours preparing the popular Haitian recipes in a Riverland cafeteria kitchen.

“It was good — much different than the usual cafeteria food,” nursing student Mary Donnelly said.

The lunch raised about $100 that will be donated to an organization involved in Haiti’s relief. Lechelt said they hoped to raise a bit more money, but grocery expenses were higher than expected.

Amnesty International members will soon vote on which charity to provide with the donation.

This is the second Haitian outreach activity of the local Amnesty International group, which currently devotes most of its efforts to women’s rights.

Last week, the group wrote letters to President Obama thanking him for extending temporary protected status granted to tens of thousands Haitian nationals.

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is an immigration benefit sought for years by Haitian activists and immigrant advocates. TPS is granted to select immigrants who cannot safely return to their homelands because of natural disasters, armed conflicts or other emergencies. Those eligible are allowed to remain in the U.S., obtain work permits and temporary stays for specific periods.

They also wrote to the president asking him to stop indictions of Haitians at sea.

Amnesty International is a worldwide organization that campaigns for internationally recognized human rights for all.