FoodShare Advocate Qadir Shah Hotak Helps Refugees Feel at Home in Milwaukee

Mar 26, 2024

Having grown up in Afghanistan, Qadir understands firsthand the difficulty people face when establishing roots in a new country. In 2022, he moved to Milwaukee to be closer to his brothers after residing in New Jersey for nearly one year. However, his road to the U.S. was long and, at times, difficult. It took Qadir months to move from Afghanistan to New Jersey, and, when he arrived, he was overwhelmed with the need to quickly assimilate to a new culture, master a new language and find belonging in a new community.

All of that was made even more difficult because there were very few people who spoke his native languages – Dari and Pashto – who could help him enroll in the federal programs that would enhance his day-to-day life. So, when Qadir moved to Milwaukee he was determined to find a career in which he could help people, like him, navigate a new city in their native language.

Through the Hanan Refugee Relief Group, Qadir was introduced to Hunger Task Force. With experience helping fellow refugees navigate the FoodShare system through an Immigration Agency in New Jersey, Qadir joined the team at Hunger Task Force to fill an important need. He is the only FoodShare Advocate of Afghan descent and who speaks the two official languages of Afghanistan. Every day, he helps refugees and other Southside residents sign up for FoodShare and renew their benefits.

“When you come to the U.S. as a refugee, you don’t know even the basics of navigating federal programs to establish your new life,” said Shah Hotak. “I take pride in helping fellow refugees apply for and obtain benefits that will improve their health and wellness and connecting them with healthcare, housing, energy and cultural resources.”

Knowing firsthand the importance of having access to culturally relevant food in the U.S., Qadir tells clients which grocery stores and Hunger Task Force network partners provide Halal foods.

“I am so proud to work for an organization that pays attention to so many cultures and diets and stocks pantry shelves with emergency foods for all,” adds Shah Hotak.

Food is a human right. Hunger Task Force FoodShare advocates like Qadir are here to help with your FoodShare benefits in your preferred language.  

Alicia’s Place FoodShare Resource Center

4144 N. 56th Street, Midtown Center


Robles Center FoodShare Resource Center

723 W. Historic Mitchell Street


Marcia P. Coggs Human Services Center

1220 W. Vliet Street, First Floor


Hunger Task Force is Milwaukee’s Free & Local food bank and Wisconsin’s anti-hunger leader. The organization’s core values are Dignity, Justice, Equity, Compassion and Stewardship. Hunger Task Force feeds people today by providing healthy and culturally appropriate food to hungry children, families and seniors in the community absolutely free of charge. Hunger Task Force also works to end future hunger by advocating for strong public policies and nutrition programs at the local, state and federal level.