After reading about the Syria Supper Club in a New York Times article headlined “Home is Where the Resistance Is,” the two friends drew up plans to start a different form of local protest. For them, the best way to counteract the xenophobia of America’s new immigration policies required more than authoring a social media post. Instead, they decided to throw a party, one where refugees share their homeland’s food with their new American neighbors.
They named their project the Sunday Supper Foundation. Nearly every monthly gathering since it began in February 2017 has sold out.
A different Dallas-area home hosts the party each month. Hosts are responsible for presenting a clean home and a space large enough for about 40 guests. A volunteer crew sets up tables and place settings before the event and returns when it’s over to break it all down and wash dishes.
Sunny Carroum said her Sunday Supper was the easiest party she’s thrown in her Lake Highlands home.
The foundation first selected cooks through Refugee Services of Texas, a social service nonprofit that supports asylum-seeking families and human-trafficking victims for up to six months, but now families in need of support are identified mostly through the foundation’s network. The first supper was in Simithraaratchy's home with an Iranian family. Other families have been new arrivals from Afghanistan, the Congo, Iraq, Myanmar, Syria and Venezuela.
Simithraaratchy estimates that a participating family walks away with about $2,000 at the end of the night, but the larger impact comes from connections the families form with guests. Past guests have assisted with job networking. One former guest drives a woman to English classes at Brookhaven College. Pope and Simithraaratchy are working to develop long-term connections through the program by identifying mentors for children in the families.
Jaffari had dreamed of becoming a dentist, but now she is trying to find a way to sell her Turkish sheqerpare cookies and Afghan breads. Her top priority is learning English. She is happy to finally live in a country where she’s allowed to attend school.
The Sunday Supper Foundation's next dinner, featuring Ivory Coast cuisine served at a Carrollton home, is June 24.