Philabundance teams ups with elected leaders to offer meals during Ramadan

Sharif Street

Pa. state Senator Sharif Street speaking at a press conference with Philabundance March 23, 2022. (Tom MacDonald / WHYY)

In honor of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts April 1, Philabundance is teaming up with a group of elected leaders to distribute 6,000 meals to those in need.

Beginning April 2nd, 200 meals a day will be distributed throughout the city in the effort organized by State Senator Sharif Street. Street said the food giveaway is an extension of Ramadan tradition.

“During the Month of Ramadan, we are encouraged not only to abstain from eating during the daylight, but also to make sure that others have the opportunity to eat when they need to,” he said. “Traditionally speaking, at the breaking of fast, called Iftars, anyone and everyone is welcome.”

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In keeping that tradition, the free meals will be available to all, Muslim or non-Muslim.

Philadelphia City Commissioner Omar Sabir, who is participating in the effort, believes the number of Philadelphians who are food insecure and don’t have enough for three meals a day hovers around 200,000. He says even more are not able to eat every night.

Philadelphia City Commissioner Omar Sabir. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

“They’re not necessarily in poverty, but they’re right above the poverty line. So they don’t eat every night, they don’t eat the type of meals that you deserve,” he said.

Loree Jones, who heads up Philabundance, added that they are making sure the meals are more than just something to eat.

“We’re really prioritizing providing nutritious food to people. People traditionally at food banks don’t always do that, we’re highlighting providing nutritious food,” Jones said. “The second element of that is providing culturally appropriate food.”

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Philabundance CEO Loree Jones speaking at a press conference March 23, 2022. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

This is the second year of the distribution effort, which is bringing together not only politicians, but the business community to feed those in need. James Blackledge with Dedicated Senior Medical Centers is helping to pay for the cost of the effort, which is around $30,000. He sees it as an opportunity for more integration within the community they serve.

Jeff Brown’s Shoprite markets, the Islamic Relief Fund and Aetna/CVS are also participating in the effort. Desiree Jones of AETNA/CVS participated in each of the 30 distribution days in 2021. She said it was a lot of work, but was “enlightened by seeing what was going on.”

Senator Street said he would like to increase the number of meals given out per day next year, with an ultimate goal of going from 200 a day to 1,000.

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