Asian American Activist Works to Empower Refugee Women Through Culinary Training

The founder says the initiative to support women, many of them Asian women, is more relevant and important than ever in the wake of anti-Asian violence and violence.

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A North Texas Asian American woman's company is working to empower refugee women through culinary training and education.

Jin-Ya Huang’s Dallas-based food company Break Bread, Break Borders is transforming lives and breaking barriers.

Huang said the organization helps refugee women from war-torn countries find jobs in the foodservice industry by offering training and helping them acquire a food handler’s permit and a food manager’s license certification.

Her mother, Margaret Mei-Ying Huang, was a chef and a community leader.

When her mother died of cancer in 2015, Jin-Ya Huang found a way to honor her legacy by creating the social justice initiative.

“I was so devastated by her passing that I really needed to turn my grief into action,” Huang said.

Since its founding in 2017, Break Bread, Break Borders has given about two dozen women new opportunities to succeed. 

“Cooking is a skill set. You can make this a job in America. And you can use food and sharing your culture, plus your storytelling as a form of education,” Huang said.

Huang grew up in Taiwan and moved to the U.S. when she was 13. She understands the challenges and cultural norms expected of Asian Americans.

“Asians are taught to keep our head down and not to make any waves. Get good grades, get good jobs, and do good, and that’s it,” Huang said.

Huang is an interdisciplinary artist who has created pieces that address racism and sexism. She is speaking out against social injustice by using her voice and her company.

Break Bread, Break Borders is cooking up community conversation -- and honoring a mother’s wisdom.   

“My mom always taught us, 'Do the right thing, be a good neighbor, and practice kindness and compassion every day,'” Huang said.

National representatives from Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation are hosting a virtual town hall Tuesday at 7 p.m. to address the Anti-Asian violence and support the AAPI community. 

Huang said the Dallas chapter will be moderating. It will stream live here.

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