The North Texas Ismaili Muslim Community came together in Plano Sunday with one goal: help the hungry.
The wide-reaching effort, driven by the nationwide Ismaili Community Engaged in Responsible Volunteering (I-CERV), had the goal of packing 100,000 meals through the collective work of 500 volunteers serving in 45-minute shifts. The end result was a total of 100,224 meals assembled by 750 volunteers ranging from age 6 to seniors at the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center in Plano. Even children too young for the assembly line spent time decorating the food boxes.
The Ismaili Muslim Community partnered with “Feeding Children Everywhere” to provide meal kits for food-insecure families through North Texas Food Bank, City Square, Metrocrest Services and 6Stones. Amreen Rehman Khoja, spokesperson for the Aga Khan Council for the Central United States – the social governance body of the Ismaili Muslim Community – said organizers wanted to ensure the effort benefited people across the Metroplex.
“So it was really important for us to partner with organizations that were a bit scattered throughout the DFW area,” she said.
Between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., hundreds queued up at the center in assembly lines to pack the meals, which consisted of non-perishable ingredients for a jambalaya dinner.
“It's really mechanical,” Rehman Khoja said. “And they're just working away building these jambalaya meal packets that are very healthy and have a long shelf life, which is great because sometimes these meals don't get used immediately. We want to make sure that it can be used when there's that ultimate need.”
They were joined by State Rep. Matt Shaheen. Plano City Councilman Shelby Williams and Carrollton Mayor Kevin Falconer.
“We all had one goal,” Rehman Khoja said. “It didn't matter from what part of life you were coming from. It didn't matter what religion you were or what race you were. It was just one goal, one community, and with the grace of God we were able to meet that goal as one community.”
She said the primary goal for I-CERV and the Ismaili Muslim Community is to improve the quality of life of others.
“Poverty and the hunger crisis still exists today,” she said. “It's still a very prevalent problem that we have within DFW, across the nation and beyond, so we wanted to take this opportunity to come together during Hunger Action Month to draw attention to this ever-prevailing problem and really contribute towards it.”
Khoja said I-CERV continuously works throughout the year to support the community, whether through volunteer work, donations, or other meal-packing events like the one on Sunday. Members who participated in this week’s effort also brought jars of peanut butter to donate to the Collin County Peanut Butter Drive, which benefits the North Texas Food Bank throughout September.