Toronto: A group of volunteers started their Ramadan fast at dawn on 13th July and later prepared and served lunch to the needy at The Good Shepherd Center on Queen Street in Toronto. The volunteers are part of a North American organization called Muslims Against Hunger, an organization that partners with soup kitchens and food pantries to provide volunteers and food.
About 10 volunteers helped Good Shepherd staff prepare and serve a lunch comprised of soup, chicken, rice, bread, hot drinks. It was a challenging operation serving 630 meals in two hours. Habeeb Sheikh, Toronto Chapter Co-ordinator said the timing of the event had lots of significance. It was held during Ramadan, a month-long celebration when Muslims fast from dawn until dusk. “This is an important month for us, so we’re giving back to the community while we’re fasting,” Sheikh said.
Sheikh also said the group is not only for Muslims. “We had volunteers from other faiths in the past at such soup kitchen events and we serve people regardless of their religion” . Sabeen and Wasel Kabir, volunteers, said giving back to community has made fasting more fulfilling. “We are fasting, but serving the food is making us stronger.” Zamir Hassan, founder of this campaign, said there are many more people in the U.S. and Canada that are hungry than one would expect. In Pennsylvania State alone, there are a half million hungry people, he said. “Food insecurity” as it’s called, affects 11 percent of U.S. citizens. “It’s amazing that this problem exists and we don’t realize how much poverty there is,” he said. “The goal is to educate, raise awareness and get people involved, Charity is the base of every faith.” Hassan said not everyone that goes to soup kitchens is homeless, as one might assume. “Many of these people are the working poor, or are on fixed incomes and they just don’t have enough.” In 2005 Hassan started opening other chapters of Muslims Against Hunger around the Northeast Region of the USA. Today the grassroots organization has chapters in 30 different US states, and one in Canada. The organization has also providing meals to summer camp students in Haiti and to school students in an improvised area in Pakistan through its sister organization.
The organization has expanded its program by launching Hunger Van Project in many cities to drive to the needy people and distribute meals.