HARRISONBURG — Traditional Guatemalan dishes will be on the menu at this year’s Taste of the World, hosted by NewBridges Immigrant Resource Center.

The 13th annual event will take place at 5:30 p.m. March 30 at First Presbyterian Church. Taste of the World is the largest fundraiser for NewBridges, a nonprofit organization founded in 2000 that provides local immigrants with resources and services in the areas of housing, health, finance, education, legal, consulting, employment and transportation.

Each year, NewBridges picks a country or region as its theme. Last year focused on the countries of the Caribbean. Guatemala will be featured as this year’s theme.

“While the main part of the event will focus on the food, music and decor from Guatemala, there will also be offerings from other countries in a more limited capacity,” said Leah Hackman, the financial specialist for NewBridges IRC.

Twenty local restaurants are donating food that will be incorporated into the menu for guests to choose from, including El Sabor de Caribe, La Flor de Mexico, Cuban Burger, El Rancho, A Bowl of Good, Babylon, Al Sultan, First Gate Halal Store, Xenia A Kebab Grille, Indian and American Cafe, BoBoKo Indonesian Cafe, Beyond, Food Maxx and Shenandoah Growers.

“Some restaurants donate a finished entree or appetizer and some restaurants donate food that we then have a team of cooks who prepare a lot of the entrees that get served,” said Abby Bush-Wilder, communications and development coordinator for NewBridges IRC.

The menu will include cuisine unique to Guatemala, including kak’ik, a turkey soup; pepián, a spicy meat stew; estofado, another type of stew; and escabeche, a marinated meat dish.

Students in Anna Haarer’s home economics class at Eastern Mennonite High School will bake champurradas, a Guatemalan cookie, for the event.

The event will also feature Marimba music, colorful Guatemalan textiles as table centerpieces and a photo exhibit by Riley Swartzendruber, an Eastern Mennonite University student who recently spent time photographing Guatemala’s cloud forest conservatory.

“It’s photos of frogs and beautiful fruits and the people he was interacting with when he was there,” Bush-Wilder said. “His photos are a special part … around the theme of this beautiful culture.”

A silent auction will take place during the dinner, featuring several items donated by local businesses, including a Guatemala-themed food basket from Friendly City Food Co-op, a gift basket with items from Guatemala and Mexico from Ten Thousand Villages, a handcrafted easel by local artisan Marv Nisly, dance classes at InMotion Dance Studio and greens fees for four at Heritage Oaks Golf Course.

NewBridges typically brings in $30,000 from Taste of the World, but this year, Hackman said their goal is to raise $45,000. All of the proceeds go toward funding the nonprofit’s general operations and initiatives, such as the immigration legal program and the health navigation program.

“As a privately funded organization, NewBridges does rely entirely on donations toward operations,” she said.

Hackman said Taste of the World allows the organization to better connect with the community.

“It’s a chance for us to get together with our donors and our guests and eat good food, and also provide an update on the current landscape of our organization,” she said. “A lot of people care about what we’re doing but they don’t get a chance to interact with us or our clients.”

NewBridges is looking forward to hosting the event in a new location. Taste of the World was held at Eastern Mennonite School last year and in previous years at Park View Mennonite Church. This year’s site, First Presbyterian Church, is located at 17 Court Square in downtown Harrisonburg.

Tickets are $65 per person or tables for groups up to eight can be purchased. Tickets can be reserved online at www.squareup.com/store/newbridgesIRC. Checks may be sent to NewBridge IRC’s office at 64 W. Water St., Harrisonburg. For more information, visit www.newbridgesirc.org.

Contact Shelby Mertens at 574-6274, @DNR_smertens or smertens@dnronline.com

Contact Shelby Mertens at 574-6274, @DNR_smertens or smertens@dnronline.com

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