US Mosque Distributes Food Aid for People Affected by Pandemic

According to non-profit organizations Feeding America, one in six Americans do not have access to healthy and safe food. One of the food banks around Washington DC is trying to change that.

These days in America, people are lining up to pick up free food, as many have lost their jobs.

“I just started coming 3 or 4 months ago,” said a resident.

“I’ve been coming here for more than 5 years.”

Not far from Washington DC, Dar al-Hijra Mosque distributes free food to those in need. Some are coming for the first time, but many are coming for years.

Food distributed includes halal chicken as well as vegetables such as onions, tomatoes and potatoes. “Every Thursday, more than 100 families are added to our list,” said Nabila Om Salam, a volunteer at Dar al-Hijra Mosque.

Hunger in America is nothing new. But things are getting worse because the coronavirus pandemic has caused many people to lose their jobs.

The charity Feeding America estimates that 1 in 6 Americans are at risk of starvation due to the pandemic.

Food banks across America are inundated with demand as more and more citizens are unemployed.

“People think ‘oh, you in America no one is hungry.’ But you will be surprised because many are starving. They don’t know whether to save money for food or pay the rent. They pay the rent first,” said Janine Ali, another volunteer at Dar Al Hijrah Mosque.

Hundreds of worship centers in America, such as Dar Al Hijrah, become food banks every week. Here, food from larger food banks is distributed to the needy. Feeding America, the largest food chain, manages about 200 food banks across America.

This non-governmental organization collects and distributes tons of food each year, assisted by volunteers.

Naeem Baig from Dar Al Hijrah came to America from Pakistan more than 30 years ago. He said poverty in America is different, but the suffering experienced by the poor is the same.

Imam Naeem Baig of the Dar Al Hijrah Mosque said, “The definition of poverty or poor people in Pakistan, India or any other country is if you don’t have shoes or your clothes are torn. But in the US, poor people come by car. Cars are not a luxury here, but need.”

Volunteers and staff said most of the residents who asked for help were less educated and less proficient in English, so they didn’t have good jobs. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has widened the gap between rich and poor in the country with the largest economy in the world. [vm/jm]