The Duchess of Sussex smiled in an Archewell Foundation apron while prepping in the kitchen
Over the weekend, the Duchess of Sussex, 42, visited the Southern California Welcome Project for “an evening of cooking and storytelling.” The update came through a news post on the recently refreshed website of the charitable organization that Prince Harry and Meghan founded in 2020 after stepping back from their royal roles.
“Inspired by her work with Hubb Community Kitchen in the U.K., Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex and The Archewell Foundation launched The Welcome Project in 2023 to support women-led programming; creating a safe haven and inclusive environment for women who have recently resettled in the U.S. from Afghanistan. This past Saturday, The Duchess joined the Southern California Welcome Project for an evening of cooking and storytelling,” read the post titled “Building Community for Women.”
“In collaboration with The Archewell Foundation’s partner, Mina’s List, a group of 15 women gathered to cook traditional Afghan food including Ashak and Mantuu. Following meal preparations, the women sat down to discuss their personal stories and the support they find from this intergenerational group of women,” it continued.
The update was accompanied by two new photos of Meghan cooking in the kitchen with women, where they matched in black aprons embroidered with “Archewell Foundation.” The post also included two closeup photos of hardworking hands — including Meghan’s! — preparing ingredients.
The post explained that Mina’s List has been working with women activists and political leaders in Afghanistan since 2014 to advocate for greater gender equality. The nonprofit helped evacuate and resettle over 2,000 Afghan women and families in 2021, with many resettling in Southern California. According to the update, “Mina’s List and The Archewell Foundation joined forces to provide community and support to these remarkable women as they begin to rebuild their lives in the U.S.”
While the update on the Duchess of Sussex’s outing is news to royal watchers, the launch of the Welcome Project is not. In December 2023, the Archewell Foundation published its annual Impact Report, which revealed that Meghan quietly launched a new initiative this year that was inspired by the Hubb Community Kitchen she supported in her royal role in the U.K.
Dubbed The Welcome Project, the program supports “women-led programming for recently resettled Afghan women to help build more inclusive and connected communities."
There are currently 11 active Welcome Projects across the U.S. “designed to foster a sense of belonging” through activities including sewing, art, hiking, swimming, photography, storytelling and cooking.
The hubs are being run in Oakland, California; Orange County, California; Missoula, Montana; San Antonio, Texas; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Washington, D.C., South Bend, Indiana; Clarkston, Georgia; Lynn, Massachusetts; Sterling, Virginia and Arlington, Virginia — adding background to where Meghan visited.
After hearing repeatedly about the "intense social isolation women in particular were experiencing," the Archewell Foundation launched The Welcome Project this year, the Impact Report outlined. With its focused programming, the venture brings access to critical resources, educational opportunities, workforce development, employment, and entrepreneurship, the report states.
In a full-circle connection to the Hubb Community Kitchen, the report also revealed that the Welcome Project uses food to bring people together. Beyond each focused project, “Welcome Dinners” are held to bring participants together over a meal.
In 2018, the Duchess of Sussex was instrumental in the release of Together: Our Community Cookbook after cooking with a group of women who suffered after the Grenfell Tower tragedy at the Hubb Community Kitchen. Meghan wrote the foreword for the collection of 50 recipes, and a portion of the proceeds benefitted the community cooking space.
The Hubb Community Kitchen was formed at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in London in 2017 to provide a community support network for survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. That June, a blaze tragically ripped through the 24-story apartment building in West London and killed 72 people.
During her first visit to the community kitchen in January 2018, the Duchess of Sussex learned that the women there were only able to use the space twice a week due to funding. Inspired, she was instrumental in the release of Together: Our Community Cookbook later that year, with a portion of the proceeds going towards the cause. Kensington Palace said the profits would help the kitchen open for up to seven days a week and widen its community reach.
Meghan wrote the foreword for the collection of 50 recipes, and the project made a splash as her first major solo charity project as the Duchess of Sussex following her royal wedding to Prince Harry in May 2018.
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The Duchess of Sussex has stayed in touch with the women of the Hubb Community Kitchen since, from hopping on a video call from her California home in 2020 and sending a voice message on the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire in 2022.
Fast forward to the present, and the news post on Meghan’s visit to a California Welcome Project arrives as part of a larger makeover to the Archewell Foundation website. As of Monday, the site has been expanded with features on programs, impact, updates and more.
“Show Up, Do Good. We believe in the power of community as a transformative solution for our collective wellbeing,” reads a quote on the landing page.
“Each of us can change our communities. All of us can change the world,” says a second message attributed to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
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