Faith in Action: The Spirit of Ramadan
May 24, 2016
Mayssoun Olabi & Christina Tobias-Nahi, Islamic Relief USA
Last week Rev. David Beckmann visited the offices of Islamic Relief USA and reminded us all of all the progress made in the past decades in advancing food security both internationally and in the US with advocacy and new policies being pushed through to help the poor and most vulnerable. Yet still hunger is pervasive and visible and we must do what we can whilst the time for the will of elected officials to act and new policies to be in acted roll out.
The weekend of May 20/21, Islamic Relief USA organized a food packaging volunteer event to prepare 5000 food boxes to be distributed in different cities across the US during the upcoming month of Ramadan. The event was attended by over 400 Volunteers in 4 states (Virginia, California, Texas, and Michigan) from different backgrounds. Each food package is designed to provide essential nutritional items for families in need across the country, and includes rice, flour, sugar, vegetable oil, pasta, salt, peanut butter, dates among others. Some major areas of the upcoming distribution will include Houston, Dallas, Boston, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.
The event was also attended by families and their children, as a way to teach them the importance of giving and caring for ones neighbor from an early age on.
“It has become increasingly difficult in the United States for some of the families who are receiving these food boxes to feed their families, as prices are increasing but wages are not.” Said Naeem Mohamed , US Programs Manager at Islamic Relief USA. “Every year countries around the world where Islamic Relief has offices receive food packages during the Month of Ramadan. This is our second year that we are doing this within the United States, because there is a growing need and increasing issues with food insecurity. Last year we distributed 3000 packages and this year 5000. This fills in a huge gap that some families’ budgets cannot spare”. Mohamed added.
Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic calendar (ninth month) and is due to begin around June 5 or 6 depending on the moon sighting. Each day during this month, Muslims around the world abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset. They are also encouraged to give generously and care for fellow human beings to leverage some of their suffering. Muslims are also keen to share food with Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors and friends. In many Muslim countries there is a tradition of organizing free food kitchens for poor people during Ramadan. In the West, many Muslims volunteer or donate to local charities or food banks. At Islamic Relief USA we are also encouraging our many supporters to join the Vote to End Hunger campaign to use their voice to speak out on the issue of hunger.