How food banks are holding fast to Ramadan traditions of charity and kindness

When Ramadan is mentioned, fasting may be the first thing that comes to mind, with the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar meaning Muslims in Canada and around the world will deepen their faith and reflect on the values of charity and kindness by choosing to fast from dawn to dusk for 30 days.

Officially beginning and ending with the appearance of the crescent moon, Muslims who are in good health observe Ramadan by abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, eating a pre-dawn meal known as suhoor or sehri. Then the daily fast begins, and they do not eat or drink anything, including water, until breaking their fast at sundown along with family members, friends and loved ones who gather for a shared evening meal, known as iftar.

To remain healthy during Ramadan, providing enough halal food for the pre-dawn meal and fast-breaking iftar is crucial for Muslim families around the world, including the ones we serve here in Canada.

However, with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis making it difficult for people to feed even their immediate families, honouring the traditions of Ramadan by hosting special iftars can become a source of hardship for households in need.

Providing culturally appropriate food to everyone in Canada who needs it

Last year, to improve access to nutritious, healthy, and culturally appropriate food for people experiencing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery, Food Banks Canada provided funding to the Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre in Ottawa to help the community-based service centre keep up with increasing food bank demand.

With a grant made possible through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Emergency Food Security Fund, the Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre was able to ensure continued access to food for people experiencing food insecurity due to the pandemic, including purchasing more culturally appropriate food for clients of its three local food banks who require a halal diet due to their faith.

As a result, during the month of Ramadan, the Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre was able to create about 100 special food packages for halal food bank clients containing cultural staples that are high in protein and fibre to sustain healthy fasting.

“When families are fasting from sunup until sundown, it is imperative that they have enough protein, fibre, and liquids for their daily meal,” the Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre program manager explained. “These hampers were only made available because of the funding from this grant.”

READ MORE: Improving access to culturally appropriate food for Afghan refugees

Food Banks Canada is grateful to donors, government, and other partners whose contributions help increase our capacity to ensure that every person in Canada experiencing food insecurity has access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their diverse dietary needs and food preferences.

With the support of our valued partners and donors, Food Banks Canada’s workshops and national grants enable the network of 10 Provincial Associations and more than 4,750 hunger-relief organizations to implement equitable, diverse, inclusive, and accessible practices that help improve the food banking system so that all people are better served.

Learn how you can help.