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Ramadan food drive helps Burnaby-based Greater Vancouver Food Bank

Ismaili CIVIC initiative collects 8,000 pounds of food and $17,601

The Lower Mainland Ismaili Muslim community blew its goals “out of the park” during a Ramadan food drive and fundraiser for area foodbanks, including the Burnaby-based Greater Vancouver Food Bank, this year.

Ismaili CIVIC – a Canadian Ismaili Muslim initiative dedicated to community service – has run fundraisers and food drives to support local food banks for about 15 years, usually during traditional times of Muslim celebration like Ramadan, Eid and Navroz.

The organization’s goal for a Ramadan food drive this year was to collect 3,000 pounds of food and $7,500 in donations. 

“We blew that out of the park,” Ismaili CIVIC lead for B.C. Sophie Shivji told the NOW.

By Wednesday, volunteers had collected 8,000 pounds of food and $17,601.

Since the Ismaili community’s places of prayer – or jamatkhana  are closed because of COVID-19, Shivji  said Ismaili CIVIC partnered with a number of Save-On-Foods stores that put out collection bins during the month of Ramadan from April 12 to May 12.

Ismaili CIVIC also hosted a drive-thru donation day on May 8 at seven jamatkhanas, including two in Burnaby .

Among the donations were 250 food items and $150 in cash collected by about 20 cub scouts whose troop meets at the Burnaby Lake Jamatkhana.

Adam Mohamed, 10, encouraged each member of his troop to donate as many food items as they were years old.

“I was hoping that it would work, and it came this far,” Mohamed told the NOW. “I’m really happy that my fellow cubs helped me get this much money and food for the people who don’t have it.”

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank supports 8,500 people each month through its direct distribution and another 14,000-plus people through its 100 community agency partners in Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and the North Shore.

The organization is currently distributing 275,000 pounds more food each month than it did at the same time last year, according to communications officer Jodie Ou.

Manager of community events and engagement Terra Paredes said the Ismaili CIVIC food drive will help, and the food bank will be able to stretch its cash donation into about $35,000 of buying power for fresh foods and other items in short supply.

“I just can’t say enough about how valuable this is,” Paredes said.

Shivji said her community is happy to help, and a Ramadan food drive just makes sense.

“The month of Ramadan is not only a month of prayer and introspection for us but also a month of volunteerism and exercising our core values of caring for the community,” she said.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor