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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Muslims face shortage of halal food in Brooklyn shelters

With limited access to kitchens and difficulty obtaining halal options, the struggle for nutritious meals intensifies.

Brooklyn, a vibrant melting pot of cultures and communities, faces a pressing issue: food insecurity. Amidst the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, this challenge has hit vulnerable populations, including recent shelter entrants and Muslim residents, particularly hard. With limited access to kitchens and difficulty obtaining halal options, the struggle for nutritious meals intensifies. In response, organizations like the Arab American Family Support Center (AAFSC) are stepping up efforts to expand halal offerings in Brooklyn’s food pantries, but challenges persist.

Surge in Demand

As reported by PIX11’s Cory McGinnis, Brooklyn’s food pantries are experiencing an unprecedented surge in demand. This surge is not merely a consequence of economic hardships but also a reflection of the diverse dietary needs within the community. For Muslim residents adhering to halal dietary laws, accessing suitable food options becomes an added layer of complexity.

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Plight of Muslim Communities

The difficulties faced by Muslim communities in accessing halal food are multifaceted. Beyond financial constraints, logistical hurdles loom large. Food pantries, while striving to meet the diverse needs of their clients, often encounter challenges in procuring and distributing halal options. This issue is further compounded by the influx of migrants and asylum seekers, many hailing from Muslim-majority countries, who find themselves navigating unfamiliar systems in a new land.

AAFSC’s Response

For years, the AAFSC has been at the forefront of addressing the need for halal food in Brooklyn. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, they have intensified their efforts and are now seeking additional funding to expand their initiatives. Adriana Curto, the Development and Communications Manager at AAFSC, emphasizes the pivotal role of increased funding in enhancing their impact. By leveraging support from the city, funders, and local allies, the AAFSC aims to bolster the availability of halal food in Brooklyn’s food pantries.

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The recent halal food distribution event organized by the AAFSC in Queens during Ramadan serves as a testament to the power of community-driven initiatives. However, to sustain and scale these efforts, broader support is essential. By rallying behind organizations like the AAFSC and advocating for policies that prioritize food equity, we can collectively address the root causes of food insecurity in Brooklyn and beyond.