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Mercy on wheels feeds homeless across Bay Area


06 15 10

 

 

 

By, Sabrina Enayatulla

 

At the end of the month, the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) will launch its first mobile soup kitchen through its Feed the Hungry initiative, which will aim to feed close to 1,000 homeless people across the Bay Area each month.

 


For the past three years the Bay Area chapter has been delivering hot meals to the homeless populations in Oakland and San Francisco on the last Saturday of every month. Volunteers have been donating their time and money, purchasing hot meals from local restaurants (everything from fried chicken and potatoes to chicken tikka masala) and driving it to designated areas in inner cities. But that will change with the launch of the new initiative, which includes a truck that will carry all the food, appropriately labeled, “Mercy on wheels.”

 

“We have rights and responsibilities toward our communities,” said Obaid Siddiqui, President of ICNA’s San Francisco Bay Area chapter. “Unfortunately, we often find [that many of us] talk a lot about our rights, but we’re not as proactive in fulfilling our responsibilities. This is an opportunity for Muslims to help.”

 

Through the Feed the Hungry program, Siddiqui said the chapter wanted to build a soup kitchen in the Bay Area, but property and maintenance costs were sky high. Another major downside of building a facility, was that the organization wouldn’t be able to reach as many people, according to Ameen Ashraf, member of the Bay Area chapter.

 

“The cities we travel to are 60 to 70 miles apart,” Ashraf said. “Even if the facility was in the heart of one of those cities, we wouldn’t be able to serve the other community.”

 

The process of acquiring the proper permits to run a mobile soup kitchen took about a year, according to Siddiqui who added that the state officials were supportive of their initiative, and helped them to ensure that all health regulations and state guidelines were properly met. Ultimately, Feed the Hungry aims to reach a few hundred people daily, though Ashraf says the transition will be gradual.

 

“Right now, we want to go from once a month to twice a month to once a week,” he said. “We want to make sure we don’t go so often, and then have to pull back because of a lack of resources.”

The event was telecast live on www.icna.org/live

The event was telecast live on www.icna.org/live

 

Ashraf said one local restaurant has already volunteered to donate food once a month, and the organization is now looking for other restaurants to sponsor enough food for 250 to 300 meals.

 

“Our goal is to find another restaurant willing to help us,” Ashraf said. “We’re calling out to generous business owners to step up and say, ‘I’m willing to do this.’”

 

Feed the Hungry’s first mobile soup kitchen truck was unveiled at the Bay Area fund raising banquet on June 20. To find out more about Feed the Hungry, to volunteer, or help sponsor the initiative, visit www.icnabay.us

 

Photo Courtesy of ICNA Bay Chapter.

 

  • Shakeel Khan

    AA,
    Mashallah very good program. Do you have specification of this truck… do you know is there is any body selling these trucks if so for how much and can we use the similar truck in Kansas City?

    JAK
    Shakeel Khan
    ICNA Relief Kansas City
    913 908 2040

  • http://www.thehrm.wordpress.com Craig Bright

    I waved and prayed with the drivers in passing today 10/30 when I witness the Mercy on Wheels truck in Mtn View. Praises be upon Allah. I am with the Humane Renaissance Movement which I founded after reading the Jewels of the Koran. I would love to ride with you guys and do service. Keep up Gods work. You can also visit http://www.rec-reationisre-creation.org to see how we are bringing people to GOD. Let me know if any chance for a grant so we can do GOD work also.

  • Anne Harris

    Very interested in setting up a truck here in SF. Is there some one in your organization who could assist me by running me through the preliminary steps? Sounds like there are a lot of hoops to go through but I feel this is a fantastic way to provide hot meals with love and care to people in need.
    Any help much appreciated.
    Thank you,
    Anne Harris

  • Suhana

    Assalamu alaikum
    We are a group of sisters here. Please let us know if we sisters have any area which we can help out in

  • Robert Abate

    I happened by your truck today, the curry I received was delicious.
    I want to thank your organisation for the good work it does – keep it up!

    Thanks.