FFO and ICNA Relief provide key items to families observing Ramadan

This April, Food for Others is partnering with ICNA Relief in Alexandria to provide a few key, culturally important food items to families observing Ramadan.

ICNA Relief is a national organization which works to alleviate human suffering through programs which provide food, transitional housing, health services, school supplies, disaster relief, and Muslim family services. Over the last year, the ICNA Relief location in Alexandria has expanded its food distribution services to help families during the pandemic.

“Before COVID, we were serving food to fewer than 100 families per week,” said Akmal Hussain, ICNA Relief’s VA Food Pantry Coordinator. “Then, we saw food become the biggest issue for a lot of families.” In Virginia, ICNA Relief responded by adding 2 new food pantries in Richmond, feeding hundreds more families in Alexandria and adding food delivery services to people who could not leave their homes due to the pandemic or lack of transportation.

About twenty percent of the families receiving food from ICNA Relief are Muslim. For Ramadan, ICNA Relief is distributing special boxes which contain foods that will allow families to prepare traditional Ramadan dishes.

A number of food providers worked together to get ICNA Relief the food items they needed, including the Capital Area Food Bank, Western Fairfax Christian Ministries, Prince William Food Rescue, and Food for Others.

FFO contributed dates, cooking oil, biscuit mix, and rice for the boxes. ICNA Relief listed these as high priority items for their families. Dates are a cultural favorite for breaking a fast.

Each box contains dates, cooking oil, rice, lentils, chickpeas, pasta, cereal, juice, peanut butter, ketchup, onions, potatoes, spices, biscuits, eggs, a few canned goods, and a halal meat. ICNA Relief is planning to serve these boxes to 1200 families in the Northern Virginia area.

“In this area we have a very diverse community of people from all over the world,” Hussain said. “Our team hopes that on special occasions- whether that is Ramadan, Easter, or even national holidays like Thanksgiving- we can give the community food relief and a smile on their face when they see an item that they really like. That’s what we strive for.”