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“Iftar On The Go meals” being distributed twice a week in Astoria during Ramadan

Free Iftar meals are being distributed by local organizations across the city during Ramadan. Photo by McCarten/NYC Council

Mar. 17, 2024 By Iryna Shkurhan

With the holy month of Ramadan underway, organizations are partnering up to distribute thousands of Iftar meals to those in need.  

Islamic Relief USA, a longtime non-profit humanitarian agency, and NYC Comptroller Brad Lander are joining forces to lessen food insecurity for those fasting during Ramadan. Together, they’re working with seven local organizations across the five boroughs to distribute halal boxed dinners for Iftar, the fast-breaking evening meal.

“For Muslims at home and across the world, the holy month of Ramadan is a time of increased worship and heightened compassion for humanity,” said Ahmed Shehata, Chief Executive Officer of Islamic Relief USA. In addition to daily fasting, charitable acts and ensuring that our neighbors do not struggle with food insecurity is central to our worship.” 

Queens is the only borough that will have the “Iftar On The Go” distributions twice a week, instead of just once like in the other boroughs. The meals will be provided by Astoria Halal Fridge, Malikah Center and Islamic Relief USA.

Distributions will take place every Monday and Wednesday outside of the Malikah Center on Steinway Street in Astoria. The meals will be available starting at 6 p.m. and end once supplies for the day run out. 

This is the second year in a row that Malikah, a grassroots organization combating gender and hate based violence, is facilitating food distributions for Ramadan. Based in Astoria, Malikah hosts self-defense training events for women as well as a safety marshal training as an alternative to neighborhood policing. 

“Ramadan is a time that amplifies the year-round struggles of food insecurity, an issue we witness daily in our work in Astoria, Queens,” said Rana Abdelhamid, Executive Director, Malikah. “Especially knowing that we will be offering halal meals to Muslim asylum seekers in NYC who are already facing immense challenges, we know how vital this service is.”  

Islamic Relief USA also donated hundreds of boxes filled with groceries to Afghan Women for Women, a nonprofit organization based in Fresh Meadows, for a pre Ramadan distribution. The executive director, Naheed Samadi Bahram, noted that this year in particular, the influx of asylum seekers in the city is creating a stronger need for food distribution events. 

For those in need of groceries to prepare meals based on their own preferences, Malikah is also having a grocery distribution every Sunday during Ramadan. 

“Ramadan is a month of service and spiritual development that brings Muslim communities together,” Lander said in a statement. “I am honored to join Islamic Relief USA and all the partner organizations to be a small part of the necessary work they do every day to support our neighbors.” 

Visits by children to food pantries across the city have increased by 69% since 2009, noted Lander. And across the five boroughs, nearly one in four adults are food insecure. 

Across all five boroughs, organizers anticipate that over 8,500 fresh meals will be distributed. 

Through our partnership with the NYC Comptroller’s Office and Islamic Relief USA, we are not only providing meals but also offering a sense of dignity and community support to our neighbors who need it most,” added Abdelhamid.  

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