ICNA Relief recently launched a Ramadan Food Box distribution program to serve 24,000 families across the United States during the month of Ramadan. The initiative aims to address food insecurity and provide culturally fulfilling foods to members of the Muslim community and beyond.
ICNA Relief is a national domestic relief and faith-based organization that is part of the Islamic Circle of North America. The organization is committed to addressing gaps in food access and meeting various community needs by raising awareness of food and nutrition insecurity.
The Ramadan Food Box initiative comes as a response to the surge in food prices. These restrictions have also been heightened by the expiration of pandemic-era boosts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. According to ICNA Relief, this lack of access is amplified for individuals observing Halal because they face challenges in finding culturally important foods to meet their faith-based dietary guidelines.
ICNA Relief is determined to fill this gap, helping to increase food security across the nation through a community-based framework.
“Sitting with them, discussing their needs with them, we came to know about their cultural significance and what they want,” Zahid Hussain, Director of Hunger Prevention for ICNA Relief tells Food Tank.
According to a study by the Arab-American Family Support Center, only 38 percent of 75 food pantries surveyed in New York City supplied halal food options. Through programs like the Ramadan Food Boxes, ICNA Relief is working to increase the accessibility to Halal and other culturally significant options in food pantries.
Ammar Ahmed, Government Affairs and Public Relations Coordinator for ICNA Relief, tells Food Tank that inclusion is at the heart of ICNA Relief. They hope to ground their commitment to foster and support communities through food.
“We want to have them feel that this is their new home, whether they’re a new arrival, a refugee, a recent immigrant, or just someone who is struggling with food insecurity, that we care about them and that they’re part of our community,” Ahmed tells Food Tank.
The Ramadan Food Box program is serving low-income, refugee, and other families in need during the month of fasting. The boxes include staple pantry items such as rice, flour, oil, and other foods traditionally eaten during Ramadan. With the help of food and monetary donations from local communities and volunteers across the country, ICNA Relief is distributing the boxes to its network of over 50 food pantries in 24 different states.
“The local community has been supporting our programs the past several years, in fact some of the community members and their families anticipate this because the local community considers ICNA Relief as a platform for good,” Hussain says.
The program has distributed 9,200 food boxes to individuals and families in 138 cities across the nation. Hussain predicts these numbers will continue to steadily increase in the days and weeks to come.
Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.
Photo courtesy of ICNA Relief