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June 20-26, 2007

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Make Dining Out Count

By Stett Holbrook

IF YOU'RE READING this on June 20 and thinking about going out to lunch or dinner, but are undecided about where to go—stop. I've got the answer. The date happens to be World Refuge Day, a United Nations–designated day aimed at raising awareness about the plight of refugees from troubled regions around the globe. The San Jose office of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has partnered with local restaurants for an event called "Make Dining Out Count." In support of the IRC efforts to support and help resettle local refugees and to mark World Refugee Day, participating restaurants will donate 10 to 20 percent of their proceeds to the organization.

"I think it's a way to open refugee assistance to outsiders in a really accessible way," Mike Cook, IRC resource developer.

The IRC has been helping refugees in San Jose since 1979, serving as the gateway to almost half of the approximately 45,000 refugees that have come to Santa Clara County in that time. IRC's immigration programs have helped thousands of refugees with citizenship and other immigration legal services. Most of Santa Clara County's refugees come from Vietnam, Iran and East Africa.

Many refugees who passed through the IRC and settled in Silicon Valley ended up opening restaurants. San Jose's abundance of Vietnamese restaurants is a direct result of the thousands of people who fled the country for the safer shores of the United States. The IRC contacted some of those restaurateurs but they declined to participate, some of who cited financial limitations, said Cook.

"Maybe next year," he said.

If you can't make it out June 20, the IRC and other refugee service providers will hold a community event June 22 at San Jose's City Hall Rotunda. The event will offer a showcase of refugee services as well as food from San Jose's refugee population including Vietnam, Bosnia, Iran, Ethiopia, Somalia and Afghanistan. In addition to food, participants can receive free health screenings, visit a mock refugee camp, learn about local service providers and enjoy dancing and music.

San Jose Vice Mayor David Cortese and state Assemblymember Jim Beall will attend the event to honor the accomplishments of the South Bay refugee community and to raise awareness of the millions of refugees and displaced people throughout the world.

For more information about refugees, check out and click on "where we work" and follow the menu to San Jose for information on the organization's work here.

The participating restaurants are:
Emile's 545 S. Second St., San Jose; 408.289.1960 (dinner).
Lou Lou's Deli and Gourmet Shoppe 127 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale; 408.733.5687 (lunch).
Parcel 104 2700 Mission College Blvd., Santa Clara; 408.970.6104 (lunch).
University Chicken 2565 The Alameda, Santa Clara; 408.241.2582 (dinner).
University Chicken 29 S. Third St., San Jose; 408.293.9976 (dinner).

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