The Muslim Food Bank in Surrey was buzzing with activity Saturday morning (March 4) as volunteers handed out food hampers to more than 1,200 people.
And as Ramadan approaches, the food bank’s needs are increasing.
“We have more demands on our programs to make people feel comfortable during this holy month of Ramadan,” executive director Azim Dahya said.
The Bridgeview food bank caters to people with certain dietary restrictions. Offering Halal, Kosher and vegan options, it serves more than 3,000 people monthly out of its north Surrey warehouse. For some clients, they offer the Iftars. This is a meal taken by Muslims at sundown to break the daily fast during the month of Ramadan. Muslims follow a Kosher diet year-round, so the Iftar meal will never have pork, alcohol or other non-Kosher food items.
Dahya said they have been operating in Surrey since 2010 and chose Surrey because of the number of refugees and immigrants that settle in the city. Surrey has 250,870 immigrants, according to the 2021 Statistics Canada census.
The food bank also has several locations across the country as well as a feeding program in Vancouver’s downtown eastside.
Volunteers at the food bank speak a wide variety of languages from Arabic, to Rohingya, Russian, Ukrainian, Farsi and more. This is especially important as the majority of their clients are refugees.
“We help stabilize them, help them with food insecurity and also help them get employment and education,” Dahya said.
This helps them become a part of Canadian society and gives them an opportunity to give back.
The Muslim Food Bank does things a bit differently, as they offer a holistic approach. It is called the ASPIRE program.
“Our role is more about getting people back on their feet, progressing them and helping them out of food insecurity.”
They also run a number of different programs from employment, dental, medical and parental support. Dahya told the Now-Leader they have social workers who can are available to help clients with educational skill development and ensure they are connected to the right resources.
Dahya said the best way to support the food bank is by donating, dropping off food items (#104 12941 115 Ave.) and volunteering. Information can be found online at www.muslimfoodbank.com/surrey-bc/.
A fundraising dinner is scheduled for March 18 at the Taj Convention Centre in Surrey. Tickets can be purchased on eventbrite by searching “MFBCS Gearing up For Ramadan Fundraising Dinner Ticket”