ICNA Relie Dallas has been actively participating in providing relief work in the DFW metroplex from past 7 years. Of the whole gamut of work, prime operational work involves providing rental / utility assistance to the mass refugee influx occurring in and around DFW metroplex. Parallel to these services being provided, it caught the attention of the ICNA Relief team that lingering along the financial assistance, there exists a huge need for food, especially among the refugee families.
When this need became more evident, instead of orchestrating food drives, the ICNA Relief Dallas leadership planned to open a food pantry. Venue was very important, as we wanted the refugee / needy families to visit our food pantry on foot and collect their share, as most of them lack mobility.
Located in the midst of 500 refugee families all in a 1-2 miles radius. We inaugurated the food pantry in mid march 2012.
We ran a campaign spreading the awareness of our existence. Initially, we received 15 – 20 families per week, and as months passed by, the number increased to 70 families. Every month we are distributing more than 10000 lbs of food & other needy items.
Awareness of our existence
To increase the awareness of our existence, we are running two campaigns through two radio channels across DFW metroplex, they are Radio Dhanak, Radio Azad. This opened gates for all the needy families living in far off cities like Irving, Euless, West Plano, Fort Worth, Arlington to utilize our services rendered. More important to mention is the fact that sisters who are physically abused and are currently residing in women’s shelter having no access to HALAL food, have started taking our help.
Supporters of our Project
Our strength lies in the major inflow of food flowing in our food pantry. Prime supporters of our food pantry are the blessed sisters from ICNA sisters’ wing, implemented a weekly plan in round robin fashion by providing us the collected food from the donor sisters attending their halaqas.
Second set of supporters are innumerable individuals, who not only bring in needed food items, but also volunteer, available Saturdays and Sundays.
Third and important supporters of our food pantry are the local Islamic schools, who not only brought their children to our food pantry as a part of their field trip, but also provided the much needed food items. Local Cub Scouts have made up a practice to bring their cub scouts not only to volunteer but also provide the food items from the “Need of the Week” list.
After Jummua’a prayers announcements and the regular weekly newsletters announcements have increased the awareness of our food pantry. Also, ICNA Relief Dallas team sends out monthly newsletter detailing about the help we are facilitating to the needy / refugee families.
Who are our Volunteers?
Streamlining the volunteer efforts and to give fair enough opportunity, ICNA Relief Dallas team has chosen 5 lead volunteers who work every Sunday to help distribute the food. They bring along with them their set of volunteers, approximately 4 – 5 people to help them.
As the donated items enter our storage area, first task we indulge into is to weigh it, record it in the database. Seeking the help of our volunteer, we stack the food in the proper places. Our beloved creator Allah swt blessed our food pantry with humble donors who donated 4 upright freezers, 2 chest freezers and 2 freezer-less refrigerators to store the food items.
Analyzing the food needs among the refugee families from various ethnicity the ICNA Relief Dallas team has concluded that there exists 6 prime items which are a part of their day today lives of these families. Rice, Sugar, Flour, Cooking Oil, Detergent liquid & Diapers. Hence we started focusing on these items by educating our donors to donate us these items, rather than snack food items.
One of the important tasks of our volunteers is to check the expiry date on the food item, and store only those items which falls under the city’s allowed limit.
Every Sunday of the month, food distribution occurs in our food pantry. Families from various ethnicity wait for their turn. Through our intake process, designed meticulously to satisfy all the requirements, each family’s intake procedure occurs.
Every family we serve has to wait for a month to receive their food again. A dip in the database, informs the in-charge person, whether this family has passed the one month wait period or not. If passed, the intake procedure continues. If not, the family is humbly informed to visit the pantry after their one month wait period.
Through the intake process, the family needs are identified. The filled in intake sheet is handed over to the lead volunteer, who after glancing through it, starts filling in the required items through his/her helpers. Items provided to the needy family are weighed and recorded in the intake sheet, which gets stored in the database.
There exists NO figment of DISCRIMINATION in our food pantry. We treat everyone with respect and equally. Names of the countries the refugee families whom we help are mentioned below.
Burma, Bhutan, Bosnia, Burundi, Congo, Gambia, Mexico, Eritrea Nepal, Viet-Nam, Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia, Chad, Ghana, Ethiopia, Sudan, Liberia, Djibouti, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Pakistan, Nigeria, Guatemala & fellow Americans.
Find below is the food distribution matrix for your awareness.
Interested volunteers can contact Br. Zahid Hussain (214 744 9671) to become a part of this noble program.