October 26, 2014. At a local mosque in Bayonne, New Jersey, in what seems to be a capacious, carpeted, and tidy basement area lined by many pillars where there are already many tables laid out for events, Hunger Van’s Zamir Hassan addresses a community of young Muslims, some of whom are being schooled at home by their parents, on the importance of feeding the homeless and giving charity, which happens to be one of the Five Pillars of Islam or Zakat. The young folk, mostly ranging in age from 4 years old to their late twenties, seem to know each other already; and most of them are acquainted with Hanin Saeed, 11 years old, who along with her mother Tammy organizes the event by collecting donations and spreading the word on Fridays which they consider to be prayer days. Tammy states that her family volunteered at the school Al-Ghazali’s last year, which is how they came to know of Hunger Van.
So this is how it came to pass, that all of the young people involved became aware of good work and charity through this type of hands-on experience which resulted in the production of 150 completely vegan meals – “Honey-B” sandwiches and “Chickaroo” salads, namely.
21 kids, mostly girls wearing hijabs, received from Zamir Hassan around the brown paper-dressed tables, important information about what hunger is, or when one doesn’t know where one’s next meal is going to be from; how many people in the States are hungry, or roughly 49 million; and the definition of charity in Muslim society according to Hassan, who mentions Zakat which is giving a tithe of one’s wages to charity, and whose tradition stipulates that a man cannot go to bed if his neighbor is hungry. No one holds back from this hands-on activity today, and no one needs extra instruction, but all tasks are meticulously performed by the people here.
There are brand new multicolored chopping knives which are mainly used for chopping salad, some girls are using, and I interrogate them. They affirm that last year, they took part in a Hunger Van event at their school, though one girl says it’s her very first time. They are all engaged in putting their chopped ingredients into a salad pot. Nabihah, a 5-year-old in a purple sweater, says its her first event, and 4-year-old Ismail, Tammy’s son, also says it’s his first event. Bisma and Barira, sisters attending NJCU, tell me it’s their first Hunger Van event, and that chopping salad is a good way of working out, and Falak who attends the nearby private school Saint Dominic’s, devoting all her attention to chopping and talking to Bisma and Barira, seems to be managing quite well on her own. The youngest kids will garnish the salad, assembly-line fashion. The event comprised the time slot from 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM, which made it a speedy day.
to see volunteers in action please click the following link
About HUNGER VAN
The Hunger Van was born in 2011 because Muslims Against Hunger founder Zamir Hassan, a practicing Muslim and resident of Bedminster, New Jersey decided that if hungry people such as the ones congregating around parks and train stations, could not come to the food, the food would come to them in vans, conveniently packaged and ready to eat. The cost of producing one hot meal is $6.07 and $4.85 for cold ones; and meals as well as events are donation-based. Sponsors are encouraged to raise funds for the feeding event. All of the food is vegan and can last for a long period of time without spoiling. for more information about Hunger Van project click here
The author of this blog, Alice M. Baskous, is a New Jersey resident and Hunter College grad who works in and frequents Manhattan Island where she spends many of her hours studying French, walking around, and writing poetry as well as fiction. She does community service with the homeless as well as hungry locals of Tompkins Square Park in downtown New York City three times a week between 10 AM and 11, and also at other Hunger Van sponsored events.