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Lockdown: Muslim charities and the fight against food poverty

29th Jan 2021
Lockdown: Muslim charities and the fight against food poverty

Muslim Hands Open Kitchen outdoor food handouts (Credit Muslim Hands)

Elham Asaad Buaras

The first fortnight of the first covid lockdown triggered an unprecedented rise in foodbank use across the UK as the economy was hit and incomes plunged. The Trussell Trust, the country’s biggest food bank network, said it experienced its busiest ever period after the lockdown was announced on March 23, when it issued 50k food parcels in the space of a week, almost double its usual volume.

A similar picture emerged from the Independent Food Aid Network, which said its food banks recorded a 59 % increase in demand for emergency food support between February and March – 17 times higher than the same period a year before. With Muslim charities across the country joining the fight against food poverty; The Muslim News looks back at the mammoth work done by a sample of those charities during the start of the covid-19 pandemic.

Through its Mighty Meals initiative with FareShare, Midlands Muslim Hands has donated a whopping one million meals last year. A spokesman for the charity said, “Initially the project supported low-income families with 4,000 meals every day across the UK over a two-month period, providing a collective 240,000 meals. ‘Mighty Meals’ now focuses its efforts in the Midlands region reached a million meals by the end of last year.”

Accentuating the vital role played by Muslim Hands during the pandemic, Simone Connolly, Director of FareShare Midlands, told The Muslim News, Muslim Hands has, “since the start of the pandemic, has supported our emergency response in getting good food to some of the most vulnerable men, women and children in our communities.

Food is a basic human right that so many people struggle to afford and collectively, by the end of the year, our partnership will have supported the distribution of 1 million meals. The pandemic has pushed millions more people into poverty and we look forward to continuing to work with Muslim Hands to respond to the growing need in the UK.”

The charity’s Open Kitchen provided 50,000 meals across Hounslow last year. Due to the pandemic, the Open Kitchen is now offering two services; delivering struggling families their food or a pick-up service from the premises from the new times of 1-2 pm.
James Murphy, an Open Kitchen service user said.

“Since I’ve come out 18 months ago, the Open Kitchen has provided me with two hot meals every day, so I have not had to steal food and be forced to get involved in criminal activity. The management here are so friendly and help me when I am feeling down. This place has saved me, showed me love, and has prevented me from going back to prison.”

Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford and Isleworth, praised the performance of the initiative in the House of Parliament stating, “Muslim Hands has a beautiful partnership plan in Hounslow, which is providing assistance to every deserving person without discrimination.”

There has also been partnership among Muslim charities; Lady Fatemah Trust has supported several food banks among them Sufra NW London and to Who is Hussain volunteers in their efforts to reach the needy.

In the first six months of the pandemic, Sufra NW London distributed over 53,000 food parcels and hot meals – that’s over 174 tonnes of food, collected, cooked, packed and delivered. Explaining how Sufra NW London had to adapt the way it delivers its food, a spokesman for the charity said, “We were heartbroken to close our Food Bank’s welcoming front door to the public. But we were determined to do more than ever for the community, so we set up a delivery service for food parcels and a new Community Kitchen delivery service that operated 7 days a week. We also recruited volunteer drivers – many from local businesses, other charities and even Brent council.”

A spokesman for Lady Fatemah Trust told The Muslim News, “We also worked with schools over the October half -term to ensure 800 cooked meals were delivered over the half term to avoid kids going hungry as they would have been reliant on school meals.”


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