Contributing Author: Jason Flatt
As Ramadan approaches, many Muslim families around the world will likely struggle to access food for iftar, the daily breaking of the fast during the holy month. The Quran instructs Muslims to feed the hungry and contribute to charity — and because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that will be more important than ever before.
Thankfully, there are organizations around the globe working to make sure that Muslim communities are nourished and safe during this time. They include faith-based institutions and non-government organizations that are providing meals to those who are incarcerated, serving refugees, and supplying disaster relief. These 18 Muslim work all year in both rural and urban areas to ensure everybody has food to eat.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA), a nationwide youth group based in the United States, has a commitment to community service. AMYA’s Muslim Youth Against Hunger initiative encourages its members to support anti-hunger initiatives in their communities. The association partners with WhyHunger to feed one million Americans in need. The youth group also encourages the health and wellness of its members through activities including sports tournaments that AMYA organizes.
The Association of Mass Welfare Agencies in Bangladesh (AMWAB) commits its 320 member NGOs to the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). AMWAB especially focuses on the SDGs No Poverty, Gender Equality, Quality Education, Clean Water and Sanitation, Decent Work and Economic Growth, and Zero Hunger. To help its members achieve the goal of Zero Hunger, AMWAB supports micro financing and other income-generating activities, with an emphasis on women. AMWAB hopes that financial stability will transition people away from reliance on food assistance from ANWAB affiliated agencies.
The Awareness and Consolation Association provides vulnerable communities in Lebanon — especially refugee communities — with food packages, clothing, infant formula, and supplies to keep houses warm during the winter. They distribute these essentials through partners at hospitals, social centers, housing facilities, and primary care programs. The Association inspires altruism and ensures that children, women, and families in need receive support year-round. Their programs also include summer camps, education for children with special needs, and vocational training programs for women.
The Basma Foundation partners with funders from all over the world to support communities across Morocco. The Foundation establishes food-based businesses with local entrepreneurs, including honey production and sheep breeding businesses in rural areas. They also provide emergency food relief for impoverished families, especially during Ramadan.
The food bank at the Dar Al-Hijra Islamic Center (DAH) in Falls Church, Virginia provides its clients more than 23,000 bags of food a year. DAH is a center for religious, communal, and educational life with a drive to shepherd the 1800 community members in its social service system towards self-sufficiency. While the food bank provides relief for immediate food needs, the rest of the social services team offers an array of skills-based courses and free health screenings. DAH also operates a thrift shop where Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients can fulfill their work requirements and gain job experience.
In Cairo, Egypt, the Egyptian Food Bank (EFB) provides an average of 250,000 families a month with boxes of food and cooking essentials. EFB helps build school kitchens and supplies schools with food to ensure their students eat throughout the day. EFB also helps members of the Egyptian Hotel Association package and donate untouched food from their buffets and events to local NGOs. Households can also make similar donations of surplus food directly to EFB to curb food waste and feed families in Cairo.
The Halal Food Bank Melbourne is a program of The Ansar Project, which supports asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. The Food Bank supplies food parcels to families housed by seven organizations across Melbourne, Australia. The organization runs entirely on volunteers who donate food, money, and time to distribute thousands of meals every month.
Komite Kemunusiaan Indonesia (KKI) is a disaster relief organization in Indonesia. The agency provides free supplies and free ambulance services to disaster victims. Post-disaster, KKI’s economic development program helps people build or rebuild businesses. And its education assistance program helps children, especially foster children, stay in school by providing youth with supplies, finances, and reading glasses. KKI also provides food assistance to families in need throughout the year, especially around Ramadan.
During holidays, Kubaib Foundation Pakistan distributes food and animals for Qurbani, a Muslim ritual sacrifice, to people in need. The foundation also works on the ground in disaster zones to provide food, clothing, and shelter. Throughout the year, Kubaib Foundation Pakistan supports prisoners with educational and social opportunities. During Eid-ul-Adha, the foundation also supplies prisoners with food for Qurbani.
As the food security arm of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Islamic Organization for Food Security is a major convener of Muslim food security-focused institutions and government agencies. The 34 member countries of the Islamic Organization for Food Security set international priorities and goals to work collaboratively towards food security. The organization focuses on access to halal foods, food safety, and Islamic financing of food security.
Islamic Relief Worldwide is one of the largest Muslim anti-hunger organizations directing zakat, Islam’s obligatory alms, to support Muslims in need. Islamic Relief galvanizes global donations through its emergency appeals to provide emergency supplies during crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to short-term emergency actions, Islamic Relief also supports economic development projects. Islamic Relief promises the communities it supports that it will promote gender justice, strengthen local capacity, provide Islamic perspectives, protect the environment, and protect children.
Muslims Against Hunger engages in anti-hunger efforts in the U.S., Canada, Haiti, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, and the Philippines. The organization’s volunteers organize Hunger Runs, where they prepare and deliver food to people in need. In New Jersey, Muslims Against Hunger operates its own Hunger Van to deliver food to people who are homeless and cannot reach a soup kitchen. The organization also supports the 1 World Community Café in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. This daily soup kitchen serves halal, kosher, and vegan meals to seniors and families with fixed incomes.
Muslim Global Relief, a British-based organization, feeds the hungry during natural disasters, famines, and conflict. Their work reaches Syria, Gaza, Yemen, Myanmar, East Africa, South Asia, and Indonesia. Muslim Global Relief provides nutritious meals, supports local food banks, irrigates farmland, and provides farmers with tools and seeds while training them in sustainable practices.
14. Muslim Food Bank
The Muslim Food Bank in British Columbia, Canada caters to the dietary needs of the people it serves with halal, kosher, vegetarian, and vegan meal options. Alongside their food baskets, the Muslim Food Bank supplies toiletries, diapers, computers for school children, and furniture whenever possible. The food bank is also home to robust social services including employment support, healthcare services, prison outreach, special needs support, and programs for youth and seniors.
15. Salma Food Bank
The Salma Food Bank emphasizes the individual stories of people experiencing homelessness across England. Every Friday the organization delivers food in eight different cities with the help of a tip line. The tip line helps drivers locate folks in need of food assistance so they can deliver food directly to them. Volunteers help locate people in need, but individuals can also contact Salma Food Bank to anonymously request food aid for themselves.
Children and refugees who are suffering in Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine receive food, clothing, and cheer from Takaful. Takaful recognizes the toll these circumstances take on children and strives to care for their physical and psychological well-being. Donors sponsor food and healthcare and support creative and educational enrichment opportunities. The organization also assists children with learning disabilities.
Pass the Plate is the United Mission for Relief & Development’s (UMR) mission to ensure Muslims in need have nutritious food when they break their Ramadan fasts. Based in the U.S., UMR provides food baskets, clean water, and healthcare, as well as education for orphans. They also organize iftars for communities around the world. During the rest of the year, UMR supports global food security with Charity Bakeries, income-generating farming projects, and emergency relief when natural disasters strike.
The Zamzam Foundation fights malnutrition across Somalia. The Foundation supplies local farmers with inputs such as seeds and tools. It also builds canals and provides training for farmers, especially in women-led households. The Zamzam Foundation was instrumental in the construction of the Arafat Hospital, one of Somalia’s largest healthcare institutions, and continues to support health and nutrition initiatives across the country. To ensure the long-term sustainability of their efforts, the Zamzam Foundation partners with the Life and Peace Institute to build peace in Somalia for a “post-conflict social transformation.”