The B.C. Muslim Association's Al-Salaam mosque is celebrating five years of feeding local families.
The association has been running a food bank out of the mosque on Canada Way since 2007 and is expected to distribute 42,000 pounds of food this year.
"It's amazing because when we started, it was only five families," said Imaad Ali, the mosque's community outreach director.
According to Ali, the mosque initially donated to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, but then members realized there was a need to feed local families.
"We realized this was happening in our own backyards, so we decided to start our own food bank," he said.
The mosque's food bank opened in 2007, serving just five local needy families. The program has grown tenfold, with new applications coming in every week from people needing food.
"We get applications pretty much from any family. What we ask them to do is provide a little bit of information. Generally, we ask for their income tax return," Ali said, adding food distribution is based on need.
"If someone has a family of five, we make sure they get extra food," he said.
The program is funded by food and cash donations from the congregation, and the companies the mosque buys food from offer generous discounts.
"That's a huge help," Ali said.
On the first Sunday of each month, volunteers pack the food.
Ali estimates the mosque feeds more than 50 families each month. They receive a 70-pound basket of items, breakfast cereal, crackers, fresh bread, sugar, salt, tea, coffee, juice, margarine, peas and much more. Most of the recipients are from wartorn countries in Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq.
To donate to the mosque's food bank program, email Fareeda Ali at fareeda2008@ gmail.com. To sign up for the food bank program, go to the mosque on Fridays, and apply in person. For more information, go to www.bcmaburnaby.org.