Zakat Foundation Director, Rep. Ilhan Omar Hand-Deliver 27,000 Pounds of Fresh Food to Minneapolis’ Poor After George Floyd Murder, Week of Police Crackdowns

Medical masks, gloves also donated amid coronavirus spike fears

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Minneapolis (June 3, 2020) Eight days into protests and curfew clampdowns on Minneapolis after police killed George Floyd on Memorial Day, Zakat Foundation of America’s Executive Director, Halil Demir, hauled nearly 14 tons of fresh produce and milk into the heart of the city’s now food-barren Powderhorn community for free distribution to the needful at four locations, including the tribute site for Floyd. Militarized dispersal marked those eight days, as tear gas and other projectiles were used against racially diverse protestors speaking out against the police for Floyd’s murder and ceaseless U.S. persecution of African Americans.

Demir and U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D) personally put hundreds of boxes — each filled with about 25 pounds of colorful fruits and vegetables — into the hands of families stranded in the community’s eight impoverished neighborhoods with no open groceries, shops or dependable public services at the moment, helped by volunteers from local nonprofits who set up the urgent giveaway.

“Faith is action, not only what you believe in,” said Demir — through his face mask, mindful of COVID-19’s spread risks in Minneapolis — while passing out chock-full produce, milk and dry-goods boxes to people out of a huge refrigerated trailer that Zakat Foundation donors filled.

“Faith is being here today, where people need you,” he said, with socially distanced Congresswoman Omar looking on.

“We are hoping we can contribute a little bit,” he said, “a little bit to heal our nation and bring love.”

Zakat Foundation delivered some 900 to 1,000 boxes of fresh produce, along with at least 300 gallons of milk to the people of Minneapolis neighborhoods in greatest need.

“We are very grateful for you hearing our call for support,” Omar told Demir and Zakat Foundation donors, “and you all deciding to show up and bring here to north Minneapolis really needed support in regards to your bringing food.”

Notably, Zakat Foundation bought all the fruits and vegetables for its food baskets fresh from Midwest farmers. That made its food campaign, and donors’ gifts, a deed doing double good. It supplied Minneapolis’ food, money, and mobility deprived with healthful nutrition while bridging the dramatic economic gap faced unexpectedly by struggling crop producers. With COVID-19 bringing the U.S. economy to a sputter, many farmers had to plow their harvests under or destroy their yields.

A Two-Fold Donation with PPE

Demir and Zakat Foundation supporters also delivered hundreds of medical masks and gloves for community health care and essential workers, with Omar expressing gratitude, saying “our community has not only been devastated by [recent events] but also the public health crisis.”

Omar meant the coronavirus pandemic, the spread of which, among systemically health care-neglected African Americans, has become a deadly national scandal and global U.S. embarrassment. The contagion’s rampant transmission has laid bare the once world-leading country’s regressive structural racism and imbedded systemic economic injustice against black Americans and Latinos, especially ever more vulnerable immigrants.

Omar’s mention also hinted at the ominous threat of a new, potentially lethal coronavirus spike in Minneapolis and major cities from coast to coast, given now nightly anti-racism rallies, intensifying police-driven pandemonium, and their implications for high COVID-19 spread risks, particularly among the hundreds of protestors arrested and cramped in infection-incubating jails, another national disgrace.

Minneapolis Nonprofit Partners Deliver

Zakat Foundation’s primary local partners in the food distribution — Building Blocks of Islam, the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, and Al-Maa’uun (Basic Aid) — have been canvassing Minneapolis’ Powderhorn community neighborhoods to determine its residents’ most urgent needs since Floyd’s murder, when protests and police lockdowns began.

“Zakat Foundation was the first national organization to reach out to us to determine how the people of the Twin Cities can be served in this time of crisis,” said Afzal Syed Mohamed, Building Blocks’ chief coordinator.

Muslim organization non-profit representatives — including Nabi Naser, Building Blocks’ director of social services, and Imam Makram El-Amin of Al-Maa’uun — took part in daily consults with the Minneapolis Muslim Leaders Coalition, a conference of dozens of local organization heads planning emergency community relief responses across the city.

In addition, staff and volunteers from CAIR-Minnesota (Council on America-Islamic Relations), VOA (Volunteers of America), and Gethsemane Lutheran Church each manned distribution sites in the highest-need neighborhoods, making food pick-up easily accessible for people.

“We appreciate the support from Zakat Foundation and their efforts to bring much-needed fresh food to our community," said Jaylani Hussein, CAIR-MN’s Executive Director. “People are really hungry for something positive right now. The community is very appreciative.”

Building Block’s Naser, at the Cup Foods memorial site where Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, underscored the dire situation of the people the food reached, especially their need for fresh fruits, vegetables and milk.

“It went to seniors who cannot go out due to COVID, and with buses and businesses being shut down,” Naser said. “It went to disabled individuals, and people in the streets of burned out stores.”

Cup Foods owner Mahmood Abumiyalah, who helped with the distribution, echoed the achievement of the plentiful food infusion.

“Building Blocks and Zakat Foundation, God reward them with all good, brought us a lot of produce and milk,” he said.

Food also for Hearts and Souls

Everywhere, gratitude for Zakat Foundation’s supporters came through.

People felt particularly touched by the compassion the humanitarian organization and its people showed them amid the troubles. They expressed more delight for the great diversity of the international charity’s donors from across the country and globe.

“This is really what people out here need at this time,” a recipient said. “And it's so nice to see support coming in from different people and places.”

Muslim responsiveness to the needs of Minneapolis’ neglected struck an emotional chord, not least with Muslim organizational partners in the fresh-food sharing, seeing the thoughtful, tangible faith in action of Zakat Foundation’s workers and givers.

Alhamdulillah, all praise is for God,” said Imam Asad Zaman, Muslim American Society of Minnesota’s executive director. “Zakat Foundation is a great asset to our community. In the middle of the Minneapolis riots, [its people] have proactively reached out to our community, identified the needs of the community, and brought resources from the entire Muslim community in America to serve the urgent needs of Minneapolis.

“God bless this organization and increase their good deeds.”

Gethsemane Lutheran Church’s Pastor Jeff Nehrbass, who also coordinated with the Muslim leadership group, along with church, staff and volunteers, aided Demir and Zakat Foundation relief workers at the Cub Foods (Broadway) parking lot site. Additionally, they helped redistribute hundreds of pounds of fresh produce and gallons of milk.

Produce boxes contained fresh tomatoes, apples, oranges, cucumbers, lettuce, celery, carrots, asparagus, onions, potatoes and other fruits and vegetables, along with fresh milk.

More Food Shipments on the Way

Zakat Foundation’s next emergency fresh-food shipment for Minneapolis families in need is scheduled for
Friday, June 5.

“God willing, we will bring five to 10 more truckloads of fresh produce here — all purchased directly from farmers — along with more milk, as well as medical masks and gloves,” Demir said.

Please help Minneapolis’ downtrodden and needful.


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