PRACTICING FAITH: Muslim Bar Association of New York – MuBANY Members Work Together to Feed the Hungry & Homeless

IMG_5433On September 27th, a beautiful day, dedicated members of the Muslim Bar Association of New York aka MUBANY, all young women and men actively working in the field of law, gathered in a brilliantly clean and spacious condominium a participating member’s friend had offered for IMG_5482afternoon use, a block away from Columbus Circle at 59th to don gloves, bring out chopping utensils, and turn out 250 meals for the homeless. Rather than hang out at the local bar to split drinks while talking of finance, haircuts, or which movie celebrities were arrested DUI, these strongly motivated, philanthropic individuals each took off approximately two hours from their daily agenda to feed the hungry and homeless.
Zamir Hassan, who orchestrates many Muslims Against Hunger, Faiths Against Hunger, and Hunger Van projects “nine days a week,” he enjoys saying, supervised one smooth and speedy operation, so that by the end of the day, various indigent persons at Tompkins Square Park on lower east side of NYC and a busy NJ shelter located near Holland Tunnel found themselves honored by the gift of the donation. Mr. Hassan generally blogs about and uploads pictures for the events he makes possible by transporting ingredients, utensils, Styrofoam containers, and people eager to benefit the homeless.
Atif Rehman, practicing attorney and President of MUBANY, in collaboration with Zamir Hassan, a Hunger Van project veteran, saw to it the congregated professionals all took part in assembling salads and sandwiches in the spirit of charity. “It’s not only about food but engaging people to do good work,” Mr. Hassan stated at the outset of Hunger Van’s “feeding the homeless” event. The Hunger Van project, based in New Jersey, the mobile kitchens of which are quickly spreading nationwide, maintains that its goal is to bring food to where the need is and not necessarily where the resource is. Muslims are traditionally instructed by the Quran to be charitable; and the MUBANY group learned, standing around the kitchen counter, anticipating pizza for lunch while waiting to delve into the drive ingredients, the definition of hunger, which is not knowning where one’s next meal is going to be; the number of homeless people in the United States, or 49 million; and the Muslim proverb from Mr. Hassan’s life bio, a person should not go to bed if his neighbor is hungry.
Hunger Van’s vegan menu typically consists of what are called “Honey B Sandwiches”: slices of packaged whole wheat Pullman bread, peanut butter, bananas, honey, and cinnamon; and “Chickaroo Salads”: lettuce, chickpeas, olives, carrots, avocado oil, sunflower seeds, and cranberries. Individual bananas are also doled out. Vegan fare is considered to be by the non-profit’s founder to be more healthy for humans in need and totally in the spirit of non-violence.
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Among the volunteers participating in the afternoon’s toil starting at noon were: Atif Rehman – President MuBANY, Wiam Riyad, Afsaan Saleem, Zulkifli Hasan, Umair Khan, Youssef Jammou, Mehdi Bali, Sayeda Abbas, Sania Khan, Narmeen Khan, Sabila Khan, Simi Mir, Zarina Syed, Stacia Ward, Madiha Zuberi. All of volunteers deserve to be congratulated for putting together a delicious meal for New York metro area’s hungry and  homeless within two to three hours – one of the generous maneuvers of MuBANY – after which all of the above-mentioned Volunteers took it upon themselves to distribute with Hunger Van and Mr. Hassan the fresh vegan fare at Tompkins Square Park in downtown Manhattan.  The supper’s remainder was conducted by the latter to a large stone New Jersey shelter where 200 homeless always eagerly accept food donations.
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Click on the below link to see MuBANY volunteers in action making meals for the homeless and hungry of NYC metro area

IMG_5432MuBany –  is a member-based professional association serving the educational, professional, and social needs of Muslim legal professionals & law students living and working in the New York metropolitan area.  We are one of the nation’s largest and most active professional associations for Muslim lawyers and we provide a range of programs, events and services for the legal community and the larger Muslim community. Click through MuBANY website to learn more about upcoming educational events, networking opportunities, and community service projects.

Hunger van.Drive Against HungerAbout THE HUNGER VAN Project Zamir Hassan, founder of Muslims Against Hunger, developed the HUNGER VAN concept over a decade ago in response to what he saw as a weakness of the soup kitchen model of feeding hungry and homeless. While an effective means of providing meals to needy populations that live in their vicinities, soup kitchens obviously cannot reach persons who live farther away and do not have access to reliable transportation.  Hassan decided that, if the people could not come to the soup kitchen, the soup kitchen would come to them. Thus HUNGER VAN project was born. Because his goal was not only to feed hungry and homeless people, but also to engage their more fortunate neighbors in service and voluntarism, Hassan designed the HUNGER VAN project to be labor- and volunteer-intensive. Rather than employing volunteers merely to deliver pre-packaged meals, HUNGER VAN places the responsibility for nearly all aspects of a feeding event in the hosting volunteer teams hands. HUNGER VAN staff members drive the van, and usually do the shopping (using money raised by sponsors), but once the fully-loaded HUNGER VAN arrives at a food prep location, the volunteers take over. In truth, volunteer involvement begins even before that. Part of the HV model requires that each feeding event have a sponsor. The two main responsibilities of the sponsor are to provide the funds to make, package, and deliver the meals, and to recruit volunteers to do the work. Factoring in the costs of food, gasoline, and other supplies, HUNGER VAN project has set a price of $6.07 per meal. Considering that the average feeding event provides around 100 meals, sponsors are encouraged to raise $607 per event. HUNGER VAN project encourages sponsors to pool their resources, to hold fundraisers, or to view the HUNGER VAN project feeding event as an offering of charity. HUNGER VAN project will also help subsidize a feeding event for groups that are unable to raise the necessary funds (e.g., college student groups), but they encourage each sponsor to cover as much of the cost as possible. HUNGER VAN project accepts online donations at http://www.hungervan.org, and provides an easy way for donors to pay for as many meals as they wish to prepare. Once the funds have been provided and HUNGER VAN project has purchased the food and supplies, HUNGER VAN travels to a specified location—usually a home, a school, a community center, or a mosque or other place of worship—for food preparation. HUNGER VAN project recommends that sponsors provide 5–6 volunteers for this part of the feeding event. With that number of volunteers, it takes about two hours to prepare the meals. Sponsors have the option of providing a hot meal or a sandwich and salad. In either case, the meals are delicious and healthful. All menu items are vegetarian and have been created in consultation with a nutritionist to ensure their health value. HUNGER VAN project wants not only to feed hungry and homeless, but also to promote good eating habits. A hot meal usually consists of rice, vegetables, and a savory lentil or bean dish, along with bread, a banana or other serving of fruit, and water or juice. HUNGER VAN project transports the meals from the food prep location to the feeding location, where volunteers set up tables with heated serving trays. Clients are served cafeteria-style. The other meal option includes a sandwich and a salad. The popular “Honey-B” sandwich features peanut butter, honey, banana slices, and cinnamon on whole wheat bread. The accompanying “Chickaroo” salad is really a meal in itself. It contains chickpeas, mango or other seasonal fruit, raisins, sunflower seeds, lettuce, tomatoes, and olives, tossed with olive oil and a south Asian masala spice mix. Volunteers place the sandwiches in bags and fill 8-ounce serving cups with the “Chickaroo” salad, and put them in individual bags along with a banana and a bottle of water. Once the food preparation is complete, volunteers clean up the preparation area, re-load the HUNGER VAN, and then travel to a location where hungry and homeless people congregate but that is not serviced by a nearby soup kitchen. There they set up their tables and serve or hand out the meals. In some locations, HUNGER VAN volunteers have become such a consistent presence that the guests arrive and begin lining up well before HV even gets there over here. Once the feeding event has concluded, the volunteers clean up and return all supplies and leftover food (if any) to the HUNGER VAN and HV returns home to prepare for the next hunger run.

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