Tag Archives: Interfaith

Sunday of Charity, Romemu Hosts @HungerVan for @ZeroHunger @ShareAmerica

Furthermore, humble submission is the root of service an the way by which a person can stop feeling superior. He will acknowledge that God alone is the Mater of All Creation, as David put it, “Yours, God, are greatness, might, splendor, triumph, and majesty – yes, all that is in heaven and on earth. —Duties of the Heart: The Gates of Dedication of Purpose, Humility, and Repentance, trans. by Avraham Yaakov Finkel

to see volunteers in action click here…..

IMG_3129October 26th, 2014. At 3:00 PM in the library-basement of Romemu, Institute for Jewish Spirituality, which is located at Central Park North on its very uppermost edge, six adults, not all of whom already know each other, gather around two large tables laden with groceries to talk about daily life, Hunger Van, and charity. Paul Shulman is the busy organizer of this Romemu event hosting Hunger Van, and this is not his first experience with Hunger Van. He has a full-time job as bookkeeper for Romemu, and is in the process of earning his Master’s Degree; and his younger sister Zena Shulman, marketing professional for the same Institution, also assists in the preparation of meals for the homeless.IMG_3140IMG_3138Alice (author of this blog) and Aletta, a young research exchange student from Frankfurt, Germany, who is spending a few months in New York City for purposes of studying Muslim socio-economics via interviews, are both from the morning’s event at Columbia University at which there were a considerable number of students. At the moment, there are no teenagers around the reading room’s tables, but plenty of gregariousness and friendly conversations about life. Also in attendance are: Betsy Imershein, Wendy Handler, Florence Kranitz, and Zamir Hassan, founder of Muslims Against Hunger, Faith Against Hunger, and Hunger Van. Most of the aforementioned volunteers reside in New York City.

IMG_3133IMG_3143During his address to Romemu’s volunteer group – and as he carefully phrases it, the conversation figures as the main part of the program – Zamir stated, “By default out of having an Ivy League school education and working for IT, you have a good life, the American Dream.” As a chaperone, Zamir in league with one of his friends fed over 200 people at a soup kitchen in Morristown, NJ, which is the precise moment his feeding the homeless endeavors got started. Mr. Hassan mentions how his mother, on Thursdays, which was a sort of start of shabat for them, made food at home for him to distribute outside. Growing up, he was always taught at home and through scripture, there is prayer and charity for a Muslim to take care of by way of duty. He sent out emails with the Muslims Against Hunger banner. “We reach out via a mobile soup kitchen, in at least twenty cities, including Toronto, Canada, to anyone in need. It is not about food; it is about engaging people.”IMG_3147IMG_3144IMG_3131
Paul continues with his own speech, “It’s not acceptable we have 49 million people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Everyone is made in the image of God, after all, and should have the same privileges.” He also announces an impending Hunger Van event on November 16th promoting solidarity between Jews and Muslims at Tompkins Square Park for anyone interested in coming. Zamir adds that there is a Hare Krishna program sponsored by a kitchen to which Zamir contributed at that very same park Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 10:00 AM and 11 on Avenue A.

A percentage of the meals created by this Hunger Van program were subsequently distributed  by a small group of volunteers including Zamir Hassan at Tompkins Square Park in downtown Manhattan, the remainder of which was donated to a homeless shelter in Jersey.
to see volunteers in action click here…..

The Hunger Van was born in 2011 because MuslimsHunger van.Drive Against Hunger 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

IMG_3137The 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.




Memorial Day Birthday Party for Homeless Veterans


For their birthday this year, on memorial day week end, 10 years old Amenah and 7 year old  Sofia Ghani decided to turn the birthday party to a GOOD DEED event. They invited 50 friends from various faiths; Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs to help them make 400 meals for the Homeless Veterans and Hungry in our backyard. Kids ages from 5 year to 15 years worked very hard for 2 hours to prepare 400 nutritious and healthy meals for homeless veterans. Ghani sisters also asked the guests to not bring any gifts, and donate, rice, beans and various food items for Hunger Van feeding programs. The party ended up collecting $1,600 in cash and 1,400 pounds of food items for Faiths Against Hunger feeding programs with Hunger Van.


Samira and Muneeb Ghani born in Pakistan made Princeton area their new home after getting married 20 year ago. Samira said, “we love here, it’s a community with a lot of diversity and represents the melting pot”. Muneeb Ghani, a consultant in finance  by profession, said, “We are very fortune to be part of American dream, and are trying to instill in our children good values of passion, kindness and caring. “We want our children to understand how blessed we are compared to 49 million Americans, who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from”, Ghani Said.

Samira Ghani took her daughter, Amenah to Trenton area soup kitchen to help Muslims Against Hunger Project feed the homeless and hungry in our backyard. When they returned home, they were very touched by the poverty and need they saw and decided to collect food and funds for Hunger Van Project on Amenah’s birthday.

Zamir Hassan, founder of Muslims Against Hunger, which has evolved into Faiths Against Hunger and HUNGER VAN projects, a national network of volunteer communities that work to help the hungry and homeless, explained that the Hunger Van “brings the soup kitchen to you,” by bringing all the supplies for meals to the site, ready to be assembled. Volunteers, who raise money to pay for the supplies, make the meals and pack it on the van, which are then distributed to those in need. “It is not acceptable to live in the richest country on the planet and there are still 49 million people who don’t know where they are getting their next meal,” said Hassan. “The whole idea is to engage the community and get them involved.”

Click on the below link to see kids in action making meals for the homeless veterans on the 2014 Memorial Day week end.

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About 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.
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.