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News Code: 824


Missouri Muslims Fight World Hunger

Celebrating thirty years of helping the poor and vulnerable in Missouri, an Islamic center has distributed 30,000 packaged meals to children in need overseas to help end world hunger.

"Every 30 seconds a person dies because of hunger-related disease," Rashed Nizam, chairman of the Islamic Center of Central Missouri (ICCM) Shura Council, told Columbia Daily Tribune.

"So when you hear that, you're responsible to do something."
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Calling for the event titled "Spread Peace, Feed the Hungry," the ICCM’s effort made the center the first Muslim organization to follow the lead of the Islamic Society of North America in hosting the volunteer event to help end world hunger.

It was attended by 150 men, women and children, ranging in age from 8 to 88 who came out to help the center reach its goal.

Making a record, they managed to exceed their goal by yielding 30,024 prepackaged meals in just a little more than two hours.

Each bag included equivalent of six meals, with each including soy wheat, rice, dehydrated vegetables and a vitamin and flavoring package.

Nizam said the food is sent to schools in as many as 34 different countries.

The work was done in cooperation with Stop Hunger Now, which brings the food and supplies to the group providing the manpower. Meals cost 25 cents each, amounting to $7,500 total for 30,000 meals.

Nizam said ICCM collected $2,500 from members, and the rest came from co-sponsors the Islamic Society of North America and the Zakat Foundation.

It was attended by representatives from both co-sponsoring organizations from Washington DC and Chicago.

Muhammad Elsanousi, ISNA communications director, said the Islamic Society's national convention Sept. 1 in Washington, DC, held a similar event with Stop Hunger Now during which members from across the country compiled 50,000 meals in two hours.

Noble Mission

Hosting similar events across America, Muslim leaders wanted to inspire other communities to help end hunger around the world.

"The purpose was to inspire communities across the nation to do exactly the same," Elsanousi, ISNA communications director, told Columbia Daily Tribune.

"Columbia, Mo., is the first Muslim community to actually sponsor" the "Stop the Hunger project with the co-sponsor of the Islamic Society of North America. Next month, we're doing the same thing in Baltimore. The purpose was to inspire the community, but now we can see results."

Rezwan Islam, an Islamic Center member and volunteer, said he took part because "feeding people is one of the noblest things to do."

Attending daily prayers with other members of the center, Islam said the event was a nice break to do a service event like this with those same people.

Baylee Delaurier, Stop Hunger Now Kansas City program director, said ICCM will get an update in a few months about which countries the food volunteers packaged is headed to.

"Remember, it's not just a hand out like, 'Here's some food'; it's a hand up," Delaurier told the group around the 20,000-meal mark.

For ICCM, the effort done to help the poor and vulnerable was a basic teaching of their Islamic faith.

"This is part of our religious teaching," Nizam said.

"Spread peace and feed the hungry was one of the earlier things [Prophet] Muhammad (peace be upon him) said when he migrated to Medina. You're supposed to feed the hungry out of your love without expecting anything in return."