Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would serve the half-million Halal meals during the Muslim holiday to feed the hungry.
The Muslim holiday of Ramadan is a month-long period of fasting, prayer, reflection, and community. As the pandemic continues in New York City, one of the worst-hit regions of the United States, the holy month will look a little different than it has in previous years. Sadly, many Muslims are expected to go hungry as a result of layoffs and shutdowns. Thankfully, the local government has stepped in to provide half a million halal meals to those in need, Bloomberg.com reports. Halal food does not contain alcohol or pork; any animal meat must have been slaughtered as per prescribed practices. Halal food is similar to kosher food, commonly eaten by the Jewish community.
As Muslim New Yorkers prepare to start the holy month of Ramadan tonight, Mayor Bill de Blasio says the city is taking steps to support the Muslim community with Halal food programs.— CBS News (@CBSNews) April 23, 2020
“Over half a million meals will be distributed during Ramadan” for Muslim New Yorkers in need pic.twitter.com/d4PbFtGMa5
The program to provide halal meals is part of an initiative to ensure as many as two million residents of New York City who would be unable to pay for food do not go hungry. An estimated 400,000 halal meals will be served at 32 different Department of Education buildings, whereas another 100,000 will be distributed through community organizations during the month. The distribution of halal meals is part of a larger program that serves at least 10 million grab-and-go meals at 435 sites in addition to meals delivered via taxi to New Yorkers who are currently housebound. The program also provides kosher meals for Jewish residents.
New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio announced the move at a press briefing held on Thursday, right before the Muslim holiday began. The holy month of Ramadan began in New York City on Friday, and will continue until May 23, when Muslims will celebrate Eid. "One of Ramadan’s most noble callings is to feed the hungry," he stated. "To remember to be there for those in need. And that is now harder than ever now that people can’t go to their mosques." According to analysis from the Journey Data Center, anywhere between 400,000 and 800,000 people in metropolitan New York City are Muslim. Many would have relied on their local mosques for food this month. However, with all public places shut down as a result of the ongoing pandemic, this will no longer be possible. The initiative thus comes at a time when food insecurity has been aggravated.
To the Muslim New Yorkers beginning their celebrations tonight who need halal meals, we have them across our 400+ grab and go meal sites, and are bringing hundreds of thousands more to the 32 sites most frequented by our Muslim communities. Go to https://t.co/CXRUjdE37k for more.— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 23, 2020
Nonetheless, the Mayor believes the problem of food insecurity will only become more acute in the coming months. De Blasio estimated that New York City will lose at least 475,000 jobs due to the continuing lockdown, which means residents will find it incredibly difficult to meet daily expenses. Despite this, he has reiterated his dedication to making sure everyone has access to nutritious meals. This month, New York City officials are prepared to provide 10 million meals. In May, the expect to serve 15 million meals. Though Mayor De Blasio did not provide an estimate of how much this will cost, he did make a vow. "No New Yorker will go hungry," he declared. "Your city will provide." No statements better exemplify the true meaning of Ramadan, a time for compassion, giving, and community.