BROOKLYN – Several local organizations have gotten together to launch four food carts that will give out free halal iftar meals to everyone during the month of Ramadan.
Usually, for iftar, Muslims would break their fast at dusk inside the masjid. Some would gather around the table at home, but many would be at the masjid. Since masjids have closed to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Pakistani American Youth Society (PAYS), Muslims Giving Back (MGB), the NYPD Muslim Officers Society, the Khyber Society of America, Innayah Services Inc., Shorefront Coalition, and Gyro King collaborated with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to launch food carts that will give out free meals.
“This is the beauty when organizations come together to serve the community without any non-sense involved,” Mohamed Bahe, the co-founder of MGB said.
The carts will be in four different neighborhoods: Brighton Beach, Midwood, Bay Ridge, and one in Queens. Meals will be given out every single day during the month-long Ramadan from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. On the carts, it says, “In loving memory of Mahmooda Shaheen and everyone who we lost to COVID-19.” Shaheen was the mother of PAYS co-founder Kashif Hussain who had died from the coronavirus.
“After her death, I was broken into many pieces. I was deeply hurt. As I took thousands of calls from people she had helped throughout her lifetime, I found out that some of the families were going through what I was going through,” Hussain said. “Every day, I would read about someone in the community dying. The isolation and social distancing added to the psychological and mental trauma to all those were losing their loved ones, including me. It was then that the words of my mother echoed in my head.”
Hussain remembered that she would often tell him, “Always look after those who are doing worse than you. Help them, elevate them, and always thank God for what you have.” And that was when Hussain realized he had to step up and help the communities he loved the most.
“We launched the food truck campaign because it’s Ramadan and people are used to getting fed in mosques, which are now locked,” he said. “In the religion of Islam, if you feed the most vulnerable and needy in the name of your loved ones, an infinite amount of reward will go to that person. I wanted to do this in her name and everyone we lost.”
Every day, they will be feeding over 1,000 people, with over 250 meals in each location. For Adams, this initiative is very important.
“This year, Ramadan comes during a time of great hardship for so many New Yorkers throughout our city. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated two million people across our city are facing the prospect of food insecurity. In addition, mosques across the city are closed, meaning many Muslims who relied on these institutions for iftar meals now have nowhere to go,” Adams told Bklyner. “That’s why we partnered with these community organizations… who have already done so much great work around the borough to get meals to first responders, to deliver 1,000 halal hot meals across the city during this holy month.”
“Especially in times of crisis and upheaval, many turn to faith and tradition as a source of comfort,” he continued. “We must do everything in our power to ensure communities of faith throughout our city can observe holidays and occasions safely and healthily while we continue to fight this pandemic.”
Hussain says their goal is to serve over 25,000 meals this holy month.
“We will continue working and help as much as our capacities allow us,” he said. “This is the least I can do for my mom and for all those families who lost their loved ones.”
To help support the initiative, check out their LaunchGood page here.