Today, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer in partnership with Islamic Relief USA, local elected officials, Muslim community leaders and hunger relief organizations, announced “Iftar on the Go”– a five-borough food distribution to expand access to free, halal meals and conduct SNAP outreach in multiple languages for New Yorkers during Ramadan. Comptroller Stringer also urged the City to restore and ensure quality and diversity in the Ramadan Halal emergency meal boxes that added much-needed capacity to feed families last year. As the CoViD-19 pandemic has acutely heightened food insecurity in New York City, Comptroller Stringer has called for increased halal options, funding for community-based organizations and food pantries, and cultural and linguistic competence in the City’s current food programming to ensure that New Yorkers of all backgrounds are able to access benefits.
Comptroller Stringer also underscored that Ramadan is an opportunity to expand vaccine access to Muslim communities that face systemic obstacles to immunization, including language barriers, digital barriers, and lack of workplace flexibility to take paid time off for vaccination. Comptroller Stringer called on the City to:
- Double-down on pop-up vaccination sites across the five boroughs during Ramadan and beyond to include more mosques, community centers and other places of worship.
- Deploy mobile vaccination vans to mosques after evening prayers, specifically targeting transit-deserts and areas disproportionately impacted by CoViD.
- Ensure ample walk-in options for seniors at these mobile sites, many of whom were left out due to the digital divide and language access.
“Ramadan is a time to reflect and take care of one other. No one should have to go hungry in the middle of a public health crisis, and especially during Ramadan,” said Comptroller Stringer. “I am proud to stand with Muslim community leaders and food security advocates to announce our five-borough Iftar on the Go to get halal meals, nutrition and support to families in need. Ramadan is also a chance for the City to ramp up vaccination outreach and meet Muslim New Yorkers where they are this holy month. Mosques, community centers and other places of worship can be lifesaving immunization hubs during Ramadan to protect thousands of our neighbors.”
“The month of Ramadan is an opportunity for Muslims across the world to increase giving and empathy. It is a time to remember our neighbors who are struggling and have found themselves in vulnerable circumstances,” said Sharif Aly, Chief Executive Officer at Islamic Relief USA. “The ongoing CoViD-19 pandemic has particularly exacerbated food insecurity throughout the country. We are pleased to be collaborating with the New York City Comptroller’s Office to provide hot meals to those who are breaking their fasts or simply seeking a nutritious dinner during this holy month.”
Iftar on the Go halal meal distribution and SNAP outreach locations and dates are available below:
Partner: Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of NY
Location: 88-29 161st Street, Jamaica, NY 11432
- Thursday, April 15, 2021 at 07:00 p.m.
- Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 07:15 p.m.
- Thursday, April 29, 2021 at 07:20 p.m
- Thursday, May 06, 2021 at 07:30 p.m.
Partner: Food Bank For New York City
Location: 252 West 116th Street, Manhattan, NY 10026
- Thursday, April 15, 2021 at 04:00 p.m.
- Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 04:00 p.m.
- Thursday, April 29, 2021 at 04:00 p.m.
- Thursday, May 06, 2021 at 04:00 p.m.
Partner: APNA Brooklyn Community Center
Location: 236 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11235
- Friday, April 16, 2021 at 02:00 p.m.
- Friday, April 23, 2021 at 02:00 p.m.
- Friday, April 30, 2021 at 02:00 p.m
- Friday, May 07, 2021 at 02:00 p.m.
Partner: Bait-ul Jammat – House of Community
Location: 192 Corson Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10301
- Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.
- Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.
- Tuesday, May 04, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.
- Tuesday, May 11, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.
Partner: SAPNA NYC
Location: 2348 Waterbury Avenue, Bronx, NY 10462
- Friday, April 16 at 02:00 p.m.
- Friday, April 23 at 02:00 p.m.
- Friday, April 30 at 02:00 p.m.
- Friday, May 07 at 02:00 p.m.
Last month, Comptroller Stringer joined more than 100 community-based organizations in calling for $25 million in FEMA reimbursement funding to be specifically dedicated to providing emergency food to undocumented New Yorkers who are unable to access federally funded safety net programs like SNAP. In February, Comptroller Stringer released a comprehensive food security plan to reach any New Yorker in need regardless of immigration status, including expanded SNAP outreach and purchasing power and the creation of a “shared delivery zone” program that centralizes neighbors’ food deliveries to meet online retailers’ minimum purchasing requirements.
In 2018, Comptroller Stringer convened a diverse coalition of Muslim and Jewish stakeholders to review his Halal and Kosher School Lunch Pilot Proposal and organize around expanding universal free school lunches to include halal and kosher food options. which was eventually funded by the City Council in several schools.
Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer said: “Iftar on the Go is a much-welcome partnership this Ramadan. An estimated 2.3 million New Yorkers face food insecurity, and after fasting all day, no one should face an empty refrigerator come sundown. Thanks to Iftar on the Go, Muslim New Yorkers won’t have to worry about where their evening meal is coming from.”
Mosaab Sadeia, Outreach Manager at Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of NY said: “So many of our Muslim brothers and sisters have kept our city moving as frontline workers through this pandemic—but disproportionately face barriers to food security and immunization. There have been efforts by the city in both areas, and we are calling to see these efforts continued and expanded. Comptroller Stringer’s recommendations for scaling up pop-up vaccination sites and mobile vaccination vans at mosques and community centers are easy steps the City can take that would drastically expand access for our community.”
Sultana Ocasio, Director of Food Bank For New York City’s Community Kitchen & Food Pantry, said: “The absence of food in the day and the humility and gratitude experienced in breaking your fast at sunset are so important in Ramadan. Ramadan is a time of sharing food, and we are grateful for NYC Comptroller Stringer and our friends at Islamic Relief USA for providing our Muslim neighbors with halal Iftar meals after breaking their fasts during this important time of the year.”
Erum Hanif, Chief Executive Officer of APNA Brooklyn Community Center said: “From helping launch a pilot program for free halal school lunches to proposing a food security plan with increased cultural and linguistic competence, Comptroller Stringer understands that our community shouldn’t have to choose between our faith and feeding our families. Comptroller Stringer is laying out smart and strategic recommendations to what the City can do to lift up approximately 1 million Muslim New Yorkers, many of whom are currently underserved and unrepresented during the most challenging time of their lives.”
Jamilah LaSalle, Co-Founder of the Bait-ul Jamaat – House of Community said: “The nutritional and dietary needs of undeserved communities on Staten Island are vast. Through the collaborative efforts of the NYC Comptroller’s Office and Islamic Relief USA, organizations with the mission to fight hunger such as ours will be able to help address this need for Muslim families by providing halal meals and doing snap outreach during this holy month.”
Diya Basu-Sen, Executive Director of SAPNA NYC said: “The past year has been incredibly tough for working class immigrant communities and communities of color with many forced to make unbearably difficult choices about what they can afford – choosing between food, rent, minutes on their phone, and other basic necessities. Last year at Sapna we decided to open an emergency food pantry because while the city has increased food assistance programs, finding culturally appropriate fresh produce and staples is still difficult for many families. In the midst of a pandemic that has already resulted in so much fear, anxiety, and loss, being able to provide families with the food that they are used to eating is a small way of maintaining normalcy at a time when everything seems out of their control. We are grateful to be partnering with Comptroller Stringer and IRUSA this Ramadan to provide iftar meals to our communities in the Bronx so that families can focus on their spiritual reflection and prayer instead of worrying about their next meal. These iftar food distributions will also allow us to do outreach on SNAP enrollment, CoViD vaccines, and other community needs that will help ensure a more equitable recovery for our city.”