November 7, 2014. It’s 3:00 P.M. Rain patters down on the ground as the weather gets colder and more unpredictable, while a group of Pakistani students meet around the HUNGER VAN to unpack supplies they’ll be taking into the Rutger’s Bush Campus Student Center the hosting the HUNGER VAN event. The students lead paraphernalia and company into a small auditorium where there are already four separate tables to spread over with paper and use for preparing meals for the homeless.
Zamir Hassan, the founder of Muslims Against Hunger, Faith Against Hunger, and Hunger Van, who brings out paraphernalia to designated locations to make salad and sandwich meals on Hunger Van runs, begins speaking to the students, although some people are still arriving. “If I don’t have lunch, then am I hungry? If you don’t, are you hungry? If a person does not know where his next meal is coming from, then he is hungry.” He states that out of the total US population which is around 316 million, 49 million are hungry; and this is in the world’s richest country. 5 additional people walk in, and the speech continues. “Pakistan is supposedly the world’s second most charitable country (the US is the first); people are so comparatively blessed! There are so many choices open to us.” That is to say, other people are significantly less lucky. The group will be involved in making three items today: Honey-B sandwiches, Chicaroo salads, and an assortment of breads, bagels, pastries, and cookies. Bottles of spring water have also been purchased for this occasion.
One table will be used for sandwiches of wheat bread, honey, cinnamon, and banana slices, and the other for 8 oz. salads comprised of carrots, olives, chopped salad greens, cherry tomatoes, cranberries, sunflower seeds, and avocado oil. There will also be students to package assorted breads.
Talking to a girl who says her name is Yasmin, she says it’s her first Hunger Van event, and that the PSA or Pakistani Student Association, is hosting the event. At 3:15 P.M. everyone starts on their projects.
Ali, the president of the PSA, says the event was done last year; and it was very successful last year. Some of the PSA’s goals are to promote Pakistani culture, cultural activities including: a real wedding, fall festival, games, dressing up in traditional clothing, increasing their amount of community service; and another goal is to cover as much ground as possible. He states that there were as much as 300 students at the last event.
By 4:10 P.M. the event’s finished and everyone talks around the tables, the boxes are packaged, one fastidious female volunteer is taking pictures with a professional-looking camera, and Mr. Hassan hurries out to re-park his van in front of the building so the boxes can be loaded in. Some very considerate students help with the carrying and loading of boxes, gigantic roll of paper used for covering tables, and paraphernalia. And they find time in between classes to do all of this hands-on, interactive charitable work!
To see Rutgers PSA members in action click …….
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.