Metro Vancouver’s Muslim Food Bank struggling with demand during last week of Ramadan

The Lower Mainland’s Muslim Food Bank admits it’s having a tough time getting donations and keeping up with demand during what it describes as a challenging Ramadan.

CEO Azim Dahya says the bank has been serving about 5,000 people every month, including many refugees who are escaping war-torn regions like Palestine, Syria, and Sudan.

“We’ve been trying to collect as many donations as possible because the need has grown tremendously,” he told CityNews. “We really need the support from the community.”

He says it’s been tricky getting donations as many people already living in Metro Vancouver are struggling to keep up with the high cost of food.

Another obstacle is being able to get halal, which is typically more expensive than regular cuts of meat, kosher, and vegan options, as well as common staples like rice and oil.

“It gets even harder in Ramadan because people are fasting and they really need to put good food on the table when they break their fast. We really have to work harder now [for donations] considering people are really struggling in these challenging times.”

Dahya says while people drop off pig products, they’re passed along to other food banks for distribution.

He says they don’t just offer food, but other services, as well.

“In the short-term, we provide them with food and clothing, and in the long-term, we also have programs to support them with employment, education, skills development and mental health,” he said.

“Mental health is a big challenge, especially when people are coming in from war-torn countries and [having] seen their families dying in front of them.”

Dahya is aware they may see an increase in donations from the Muslim community in this final full week of the holy month, as charity is a requirement of the faith, however, he stresses the hunger continues after Eid and hopes that message resonates with the public.

“We do need more funds to be able to sustain the growth. The growth in the last few years has doubled, so even if the funds were a little better than last year, it’s not good enough.”

The Muslim Food Bank in Metro Vancouver has two locations, one in Vancouver and one in Surrey. It’s been operating for just over a decade and accepts donations online and in person.

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