TORONTO STAR OP-ED: ‘Our hearts can stay open’: how faith-based organizations are fighting hunger

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‘Our hearts can stay open’: how faith-based organizations are fighting hunger

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and magnified many existing social challenges in Canadian society. Nowhere is this clearer than in looking at how many families and individuals are now in need of charitable food programs

The economic devastation that the pandemic brought with it has led to some unique partnerships between non-profit organizations and businesses to address these issues, especially hunger. Organizations like KhalsaAid Canada, United Jewish Appeal and the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) have been able to respond quickly due to their organizations’ existing national volunteer network, donor base and grassroots infrastructure.

Spearheading a national campaign from Vancouver to Montreal, with nine major cities participating, MAC volunteers have taken responsibility for the care of the most vulnerable members of our shared communities in this difficult time.

Adopting a no-questions-asked policy for distribution, MAC Food Share has raised more than $125,000 from generous Canadians (despite economic uncertainty) and served over 5,000 families hot meals and much-needed grocery staples. In a beautiful show of cooperation and coming together, MAC has also acted as an organizer, partnering with more than 30 community organizations and businesses.

In Peel and the GTA, one of Canada’s most diverse and thriving regions, the pandemic has hit families particularly hard, especially vulnerable groups including refugees, new immigrants, seniors and recently unemployed families. These families are having an even harder time than normal putting food on the table.

Without skipping a beat, MAC Food Share kicked into high gear, tapping into its existing donor base to provide food packages and deliveries to 1,500 families, rotating 375 families weekly, and the waiting list is growing. Every Saturday, volunteers are diligently putting together the packages while strictly adhering to all health, safety and social distancing guidelines out of the Islamic Community Centre of Ontario in Mississauga and Masjid Toronto in the downtown core. On Sunday, they’re in the streets, handing off the much-needed food with a smile.

The success of the program so far is not only from the fact that MAC’s existing programs have made it possible to take action immediately. The network of partners established in response to this unprecedented time, from suppliers to service providers, has made the process smooth and effective.

MAC has partnered with wholesale suppliers including Phoenicia Group Inc and Pak National Foods to ensure the dollars raised stretch as far as possible. Our alliances with Nisa Homes, Sakeenah Homes, ASK Foundation, Smile and the Church of St. Stephen-in-the-Fields have helped target the most vulnerable families.

Waqqas Shafique is a product manager in the health-tech sector. He lives in Mississauga and is volunteer chapter head for the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) Peel Chapter.

 

Original article found here.


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