IMAD Food Drive

by Megan Benham

To help CIOGC highlight the importance of charity within the Islamic faith as an important part of IMAD, Sara Hamdan and I worked together to create the first annual IMAD food drive.  Charity is an important aspect of Islam, so it seems natural for a day that advocates for issues affecting the Muslim community becomes a way to give back to the community as well.

Not only was the food drive a way to support the greater Illinois community, but it was also a way to draw attention to a growing problem throughout the United States, hunger. According to the Governor of Illinois’ Commission to End Hunger Report of 2012, 1.8 million Illinoisans face food insecurity.  This number includes 23.3% of all Illinois children.  This looming statistic was the driving force to Chicago Muslims raiding their pantries and local grocery stores for canned and boxed goods to donate in Springfield.

Sara and I asked each member of the community coming to Springfield to bring one canned or boxed food item on the bus with them.  As people stepped off the buses and into the streets of the capitol, we collected food items one-by-one.  The drive was a great success!  We were able to collect several dozen pounds of food.  We even had MCC full-time school donate ten pounds of baby food, and they did not even send a bus to Springfield.

After we gathered all the boxes and cans of food, we took the short drive to the Central Illinois Food Bank.  This small warehouse collects, distributes, and transports food for 160 food pantries in 21 counties, serving approximately 17,600 people a week.  There Kristy Gilmore, the donations coordinator of the food bank, and Scott McFarland, Executive Director of the Serve Illinois Commission, met us for a tour of the warehouse.  The number of bunches of bananas, jars of peanut butter, and other food goods stacking the giant shelves and palettes amazed me.  Kristy explained that despite the amount of food in the warehouse, with the growing number of people in Illinois facing food insecurity, sometimes the amount of food is still not enough and every donation counts.

As the IMAD food drive becomes an annual addition to Illinois Muslim Action Day, it shows how a commitment to the needs of the community crosses cultural, ethnic, and religious borders.  We can work together to help our neighbors despite religious affiliation or birth country.  Hunger is in our backyard, and Uniting America has taken a small step to fight back against it.

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