Save a turkey, stuff a pumpkin!

This post guest-written by Barbara Eiswerth, Founder and Director of Iskashitaa Refugee Network.

The Charlie Brown Pumpkin harvest is never just a pumpkin harvest to Iskashitaa Refugee Network. Iskashitaa has been working with Buckelew Farms and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona for 13 years to reduce food waste. Nearly 70 Iskashitaa volunteers from America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East scoured and utilized every inch of edible flowers, buds, seeds (pickled delicacy in Bhutan), squash, green shoots and leaves that we could fit in our modest trucks. For a UN refugee, this offers a taste of home not found in stores or even farmer’s markets.  

In this season alone, three 18 wheelers, two trucks, and a luxury high school bus brought food resources to many in Tucson (5,000 pounds back to Iskashitaa). This time of year for our  ‘Save a Turkey’ campaign (Stuff a Pumpkin), we provide many amazing recipes to make the fall filled with nutritious local foods. Iskashitaa will have pumpkins and squash for redistribution for 6-9 months each year for UN refugees to supplement their diet. Iskashitaa makes this harvest happen with groups like, University Students from four departments, Salpointe High School, and Catholic Relief Services student club.

For a suggested donation of $1 per lb get yourself some squash to savor this Thanksgiving holiday. Your donation will help us pay for transportation as well as redistribution of food to refugee families this winter. Email Paola at [email protected] if you are interested.

Check out some of our recipes below:

Elegant Stuffed Pumpkin

From the Vegetarian Times Cookbook; Modified by Iskashitaa Refugee Network


  • 1 five pound pumpkin
  • 2-3 cups brown or white rice, cooked
  • 2 cups crumbled dry bread
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ½-1 cup chopped celery and leaves
  • 2 local apples (tart, chopped)
  • Handful dried fruit (any)
  • 1-2 cups vegetable stock
  • ¼- ½ cup butter, melted, or safflower oil
  • Sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, & paprika to taste
  • Soy sauce or salt to taste


Cut off top of pumpkin to make a lid.  Remove seeds and scrape out any stringy pulp.  Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well with hands.  Add stock and butter, and mix well, adding soy sauce or salt if desired.  Stuffing should be moist but not wet.  Pack loosely into pumpkin, replace lid, and bake on an oiled cookie sheet for 1 ½ hours or more at 325 °F.  It's done when a fork pushes easily through the pumpkin.  Transfer to a casserole dish and serve at the table, scooping out some of the tender pumpkin flesh with each serving of stuffing.
Serves 5-6

Stuffed Squash or Pumpkin

From the Vegetarian Times Cookbook; Modified by Iskashitaa Refugee Network


  • 1 large squash (Hubbard, butternut, or 2-3 acorn squash)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 onions, minced
  • 6 celery stocks (with leaves)
  • 2 chopped local apples
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup soup stock or water
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice, millet, or bulgur
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon crushed sage
  • ½ cup toasted and chopped almonds, cashews, etc.
  • Handful dried fruit (any)

Split squash in half and scoop out seeds and membrane.  Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a skillet and sauté onion.  When it's lightly browned, add celery and sauté a few more minutes.  Add salt and ½ cup of water.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Combine with remaining stuffing ingredients.  Fill squash cavities and brush sides with remaining oil.  Place in a roasting pan and cover the whole pan with foil.  Bake at 350 °F for 1-2 hours.  (Hubbard squash usually takes much longer to bake than an Acorn.)

Serves 6