BROOKLYN – Before the coronavirus pandemic, Muslim Community Patrol and Services (MCPS) prepared and distributed 150 hot meals to the homeless every Friday. Now, they aren’t able to gather as many volunteers and they fear it’s not safe to gather a lot of people in one spot. They have since started to deliver meals to homebound seniors.
They’re calling it “Feeding the Hungry: A Coronavirus Appeal.”
“This is a challenging time for everyone, there is an increase in uncertainty and anxiety about what the future holds. If we can alleviate someone’s worries, even if by providing them with a meal or two, hopefully, we will create a ripple effect of positive actions,” Shahirah Hassan, MCPS’ communications and marketing manager told Bklyner. “Furthermore, it’s not about what happens to us, it’s about how we respond and rise to the occasion — when we shift our focus from only thinking about how we can help ourselves to how we can help others as well, some of that anxiety is somehow lifted. ”
It began on March 23, when senior centers started closing amid the pandemic. On Friday, March 27, MCPS prepared and delivered 90 meals to senior citizens and individuals with a weakened immune system who are now homebound.
“Within a few short weeks [of senior centers closing], the elderly who frequented these centers did not just lose a place for them to socialize and feel a sense of belonging – they lost their source of nourishment through daily cooked meals,” Hassan said. “Sadly, some of the elderly live alone at home and now, in addition to social isolation, they are struggling to eat on a daily basis as they are advised to not leave their homes.”
The meals are diabetic-friendly. Last week, they consisted of prepared rice with chicken and sauteed vegetables, roast potatoes, and fresh salad. After the meals are prepared, they must be delivered.
MCPS was given a list of senior citizens by a case manager who works for Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez’s office, Hassan tells us, and from some volunteers who had previously worked at the United Senior Citizens Center in Sunset Park. Additionally, MCPS had also received calls from senior citizens themselves, their children, and care providers registering to receive meals every Friday. Currently, MCPS is partnering with many groups, including Velázquez’s office, volunteers from the United Citizens Center, SMILE for Charity, Faith, the Muslim Network, and the Islamic Center of Passaic County (ICPS).
To ensure everyone’s safety, all volunteers must declare if they have had or currently have any symptoms, and are also required to deliver the meals while wearing protective equipment and follow social distancing guidelines carefully.
“It’s important for anyone and everyone who can help to play a role in alleviating another person’s struggle. During times of adversity, our true character and strength shines through,” Hassan said. “We have a lot to offer the community right now, and as Muslims, our greatest offering is our compassion and leadership. This is a time for Muslims to lead by example when it comes to compassion, confidence, and proactiveness — these are just a few of the characteristics of role models in the Islamic tradition.”
“Additionally, in our tradition, we are taught to not neglect the elderly and weak, and that includes those who are vulnerable during this pandemic,” Hassan said. “The immediate goal is to feed the hungry and immunocompromised. The ultimate goal is to promote public safety, and a holistic understanding of safety, and to lead by example by fostering a more compassionate, inclusive, empathetic, and open-minded community.”
To volunteer or register food delivery, email email@example.com. To donate, check out their LaunchGood campaign here.