This Sunday, October 16, 2022 is World Food Day, a day to promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from food insecurity. Across 150 countries worldwide, hundreds of events and outreach activities bring together governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations, the media, and the public with the common goal of leaving no one behind when it comes to food security and healthy diets for all.
In addition to reaching out to our community in digital spaces this World Food Day for food aid support, IRUSA is also hosting a Day of Dignity event in Southern California (look for live footage from the event on our social media). Along with food, we will also be distributing blankets, clothing, and hygiene kits.
Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA) has long advocated for and supported programs designed to curb food-insecurity and improve access to nutritious food. The Qur’an teaches that social solidarity is a right for the those in need–it is not a favor, but an obligation, for a Muslim to ensure their neighbor does not go hungry.
Our Qurbani program is a social solidarity program where we disperse high quality meats that are prepared according to strict health and religious guidelines and best practices. During the 2022 Qurbani season, IR gifted meat to over 1.7 million people worldwide, ensuring they receive an ample amount of protein, among other nutrients.
During the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, IR launched worldwide campaigns to distribute food parcels to assist those who struggle. These parcels, which contain nonperishable items like rice, beans, flour, dates, and oil, helped some 1.3 million people in 2022. Cash and food vouchers were also distributed along the parcels to stimulate local economies.
In the Horn of Africa, the food parcels and cash assistance helped 100,000 people in Ethiopia and over 70,000 people in Somalia. In Yemen, 150,000 people were given food boxes and vouchers, helping reduce some of the malnourishment that has resulted after seven years of conflict. In the Rakine state of Myanmar, IR supported a multi-million dollar project to provide nutritious, safe, and culturally appropriate foods to some 66,000 people. And in Afghanistan, IR distributed food parcels to some 200,000 people.
Anwar Khan, co-founder and president of IRUSA, recently attended the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health on September 28, 2022. The conference’s goal was to improve access to healthy food by bringing together major stakeholders from various sectors to come up with innovative solutions to improve equity, reduce diet-related diseases, and promote best practices.
In 2017, IRUSA worked with No Kid Hungry by issuing a $100,000 grant to provide healthier school lunches to students in impoverished areas, helping more than 45,000 children.
On December 14, 2021, IRUSA participated in a Day of Action to support an extension to the Child Tax Credit and to make the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer program available nationwide.
During the summer months, Islamic Relief USA works with various partners around the country to implement summer feeding programs. Children at risk of hunger are given access to healthy breakfasts and lunches at no cost.
While programs like these help provide valuable resources and food in the short term, more systematic procedures and programs need to be put in place to ensure the growth of food is not threatened, or at least mitigated. This requires funding and supporting programs addressing such existential threats such as climate change –droughts, hurricanes, extreme heat– and man-made conflict.
A sustainable response to the challenge of food-security, at the individual and systemic level, requires valuable partnerships and continuous support. To find out more, visit irusa.org/food