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‘Harmony’: Interfaith food drive collects 10,000 lbs. in donations

For 10 years, the Ismaili Muslim community has been running a food drive during Ramadan
Members of partner organizations for the interfaith food drive pose for a photo after dropping off 10,000 lbs. of food at the Surrey Food Bank on Friday (May 6, 2022). (Photo: Lauren Collins)

An interfaith food drive has donated 10,000 lbs. of donations to local food banks.

For the last 10 years, the Ismaili Muslim community has been running a food drive during the month of Ramadan. In 2021, the group collected more than 10,000 lbs and more than $17,000 to benefit Lower Mainland food banks.

But this year, both Easter and Lent fell during Ramadan, so organizers decided to bring together multiple communities of faith for the annual initiative, said Farouq Manji, who is the member for community relations for the Ismaili Council of BC.

On Friday (May 6), partner organizations came together at the Surrey Food Bank to drop off the donations.

“During the month of Ramadan, beyond the time where Muslims around the world fast, this is also a time where we exemplify Islam’s core values of giving back, compassion and peace and care for the needy,” noted Manji.

Manji said it’s “incredibly heartwarming” to have the faith communities come together “united and stronger.”

“Pre-pandemic, we were all doing our things in our own little silos and I think the pandemic forced everyone to really come together, to pivot in ways we didn’t think about.”

For Kristine Ashton, the food drive “strengthened the bond of friendship with our interfaith friends.”

Ashton, communications director for the Vancouver-area stake of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, said it’s amazing to see the end product of a month’s work.

“When you join together for common good, for humanitarian values, any cultural or doctrinal or any other concerns just fade and we become friends,” she said.

“The biggest takeaway, for me, is we are united in purpose and there are many things that we can do when we join together. The force for good is so much stronger, the reach is greater.”

The Surrey Food Bank and the Muslim Food Bank are both recipients of this year’s donation, and Hina Gehlen says it shows “there’s still good in the world.”

“Donations (are good), yes, but the harmony that I see is more important. That we can work together. We have our differences, but we can work together and make Canada better,” said Gehlen, community outreach and communications worker for the Muslim Food Bank.

Gehlen said the need for donations at the Muslim Food Bank “is great,” adding they help between 800 and 900 families each month.

Meantime, the Surrey Food Bank’s new executive director Nancy Pagani says the donations are “critically important” right now.

READ ALSO: ‘This is my community’: Surrey Food Bank welcomes new executive director, May 4, 2022

“Certainly within our community, we’re seeing a downturn in donations and an increase in our clients,” she explained. “For the month of April, we took in 43,000 lbs. of food, but 85,000 went out.

“We had 164 clients come through (Friday). You average that throughout the month and it doesn’t last very long. It may last two weeks, a week. It depends on the numbers coming in.”

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Farouq Manji, the member for community relations for the Ismaili Council of BC. with some of the donations for the Ismaili Muslim community’s interfaith food drive. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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