Even though Montgomery County is one of the most affluent in the U.S., more than 40,000 residents struggle with hunger. One in every eight residents is vulnerable to hunger and food insecurity each day. One in every three children in the county qualifies for free or reduced lunch in school — but the need does not end there. Many who are fleeing economic and domestic crises, the working poor, seniors, and those with intellectual and physical disabilities are just a few of the economic strata who require help from Montgomery County. These numbers are rising steadily.
The Montgomery County Muslim Foundation (MCMF) has made its mission to help reduce the hunger gap in the county. On April 28 and 29, the organization initiated a food drive in collaboration with Manna Foods and Giant Grocery Stores. Sixty volunteers from diverse backgrounds — Pakistanis, African American, Indian, Spanish, and Arabs — led by MCMF Board Member Amnir Khawaja collected 9,000 pounds of non-perishable food at 13 Giant Grocery stores and subsequently donated it to Manna Food Center to fight hunger in Montgomery County.
These volunteers and other members of MCMF were celebrated and appreciated for their dedication on May 12 at the MCMF Annual Community Cookout at the Black Hills Regional Park.
MCMF Chairman Tufail Ahmed spoke to the crowd of several hundred attendees: “The vision of MCMF is to help create a hunger-free and hate-free society. To promote that vision, it has undertaken several initiatives and programs to feed the homeless and hungry residents of Montgomery County both individually and in collaboration with other charitable organizations. One such program is undertaken in collaboration with Manna Food and Giant stores. The food collected by MCMF volunteers under this project is donated to Manna Food for distribution among these deserving people. MCMF has undertaken this annual exercise for the last 7-8 years and its scope and scale has been on the increasingly fulfilling its vision and mission.”
For his role as the founder and leader of MCMF as well as for his dedication and hard work in launching several welfare programs to help the seniors, youth and other residents needing help, Ahmed was presented the Roscoe R Nix distinguished Community Leadership award on April 23.
A number of public officials, including County Executive Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County Council members Roger Berliner, George Leventhal, Nancy Floreen and Marc Elrich attended the event and acknowledged the importance of the work of MCMF.
“I want to commend the charitable interfaith acts of the MCMF,” said Leggett.
“They are making our county a better place to call home,” George Leventhal said that MCMF exemplifies the Muslim principles of charity as well as good deeds. He said, “I deeply appreciate MCMF’s participation in Montgomery County’s vigorous charitable enterprise.”
Others who were in attendance included Special Assistant to the County Executive Charles Short, Director of the Office of Community Partnerships Bruce Adams, and Interfaith Community Liaison for the Office of Community Partnerships Rev. Mansfield “Kasey” Kaseman.
Kaseman said, “We deeply appreciate the community service work being done by MCMF.” In addition to the above Montgomery County officials, the event was also attended by candidates for various elected offices in the upcoming election.
Volunteers were awarded Certificates of Appreciation for their efforts in helping families throughout Montgomery County. Councilmember Roger Berliner also awarded a certificate of appreciation to MCMF for promoting Cultural Diversity and improving the lives of communities in Montgomery County.
After the awards were presented, a lunch of Pakistani food was served.