The Islamic Centre of Kingston (ISK) is donating $7,500 to the Partners in Mission Food Bank. The money was collected as donations from ISK community members, as part of the annual Give 30 campaign that runs in many communities during the month of Ramadan.
Founded in 2012, Give 30 supports 18 major food banks and anti-poverty organizations across Canada, the United States and Australia. The campaign encourages people of all backgrounds to support local food banks during the month of Ramadan.
“The idea is to make sure that our neighbours are fed during this month, when we get just a glimpse of what it is like to go hungry ourselves,” said Mona Rahman, the ISK’s education coordinator and a member of Kingston’s Give 30 team.
This is the ISK’s seventh year of participation in the program, and a very different year than most.
“Typically, the Islamic Centre of Kingston is full [during Ramadan],” said Rahman, “with people gathering each night for prayers after their fasts. Saturdays would see community dinners where different groups would coordinate to provide the iftar,” the meal that breaks the daily fast.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, the ISK has closed its doors and moved their programming online. Knowing the large scale meal events wouldn’t run, Rahman said the idea occurred to them to ask the weekly organizers to redirect those funds towards Give 30.
“The idea was to provide food packages in lieu of the ISK weekly community meals, providing 50 food packages for all 30 days of Ramadan,” Rahman said. They set a goal to donate $7500, the equivalent of those 1500 food packages for the Food Bank.
Starting early, and still going
The community met their goal as Ramadan came to an end with ‘Eid-ul-Fitr celebrated on Sunday, May 24. The funds were presented to Partners in Mission Food Bank on Friday, Jul. 10 at 3:30 p.m.
Rahman said the COVID-19 pandemic presents challenges for everyone, but more so for vulnerable and marginalized people in the communities at home and around the world.
“We always hear about poverty in developing countries, but we forget that we have this problem of hunger too. Especially in Kingston,” Rahman said. “It’s not as visible because we’re so small. I think people forget.” She said the Give 30 campaign aims to tackle hunger on a local level.
“If we all help locally, it will spread,” she said. “Take care of the ones closest to you in your own backyard.”
Due to the pressure the COVID-19 pandemic has exerted on the Partners in Mission Food Bank, Rahman said this year’s campaign was launched early, before the beginning of Ramadan. It will run until at least the end of August, with possible extension.
Dan Irwin, Executive Director of the Partners in Mission Food Bank in Kingston, said the donation is particularly welcome in these uncertain times.
“We had a spike in donations at the beginning, now we are back down to the lower end of normal. But when CERB runs out, that’s scary for us,” he said.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has caused the unemployment rate to spike across Canada. As business have shuttered and shut down, Kingston has not been spared from the trend. With uncertainty around any future government relief programs, Irwin said the Food Bank anticipates a spike in demand in fall and winter.
“I’ve told my employees ‘If you have vacation to use, don’t wait: Take it now.’” he said.
UPDATE: In addition to the ISK donation of $7500, the Give 30 campaign has raised $8601 for a record contribution of $16 101 for the 2020 year.