Ramadan donation drive launches early to support Food Bank of Waterloo Region

Muslims in Waterloo region have launched a Ramadan donation campaign a few weeks early to help The Food Bank of Waterloo Region during COVID-19. 

Give30 is a Canada-wide food and donation drive that Muslim community members brought to Waterloo region for the first time in 2017. 

Normally, it starts at the beginning of the month-long fast and continues until the second Eid celebration, said Sarah Shafiq, who is with the Coalition of Muslim Women of Kitchener-Waterloo. 

This year, Ramadan begins on April 23, but Give30 is starting early. That’s not the only change; to limit exposure, only digital donations will be accepted. 

“For this year, we won’t be collecting the actual food donations,” Shafiq said.

“It is just the money,” she said, which will go directly to The Food Bank of Waterloo Region and, hopefully, the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank. 

Fasting gives ‘experiential empathy’

The connection between Ramadan and food banks is a natural one, Shafiq told CBC K-W. 

“This fasting is common in [many religious] traditions and the fundamental goal is to draw closer to the creator and being thankful, grateful for seemingly simple things like food and water,” she said. 

“That sense of that experiential empathy, that feeling of the belly being empty and not having food — it really gives us that insight, that experiential insight, into what hunger feels like, what thirst feels like,” she said. 

She says that experience is something many Canadians really can’t relate to first-hand. 

The Give30 initiative is supported by nearly a dozen Muslim and Islamic groups in Waterloo region including the Islamic Centre of Cambridge, Ilm Tree Academy and Arab Women of Waterloo Region, but Shafiq says she hopes the greater community will feel inspired and generosity will cross cultural boundaries. 

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