Flint Muslim Food Pantry provides food & job training
By Ann Pierret, ABC 12
FLINT (WJRT) – “Initially everyone gets a bag with canned goods, cereal, milk, vegetables. So we have perishable and non-perishable items,” explained core volunteer Isra Daraiseh.
The Flint Muslim Food Pantry provides more than 400 families with groceries for the month.
Daraiseh tells ABC12 News the need began to grow exponentially when the water crisis hit.
“Charity is a huge part of the religion and I don’t do it because of that, but it also helps that I’m also serving you know within my religion to serve others,” she explained.
And the majority of them aren’t Muslim, just people in need.
“There is strength in diversity, there is strength in coming together as one people, that’s what it indicates. People from all faiths, all backgrounds, all, you know, ethnicity – come together for one cause of helping each other,” Founder Khalid Iqbal said.
His efforts began 35 years ago when he and his wife brought about 30 to 50 meals to those in need outside the Muslim House Downtown.
“But then we said that’s only one day. What happens afterwards? So we were blessed,” he said. “We started the concept of starting the food pantry and we haven’t looked back.”
As hundreds of families began coming to their door, Iqbal and his team decided to expand their hours. They now provide food every 2nd and 3rd Saturday of the month.
And, he began to offer classes.
“Little baby steps, but that’s what we are trying,” Iqbal said. “So that they become productive members of the community, start paying taxes and what not instead of being a burden on our economy. And they’re willing. So we give them tools.”
His new position is far from the paycheck he got as an engineer, but Iqbal tells ABC12 News part of his motivation was wanting “to show Muslims are playing a role.”
Which he says is important now more than ever.
He explained, “I think Muslims need to get up and say hey we are part of the community. Let’s do our part, be active. So, I think it’s a blessing in disguise. I look at it in a positive way because when you’re challenged, you do more and you do good.”
And with the controversial travel ban and fear about Muslims, Iqbal sees that challenge as an opportunity to help others and teach our community about his religion.