Zamir Hassan knows where homeless people congregate — around train stations, under bridges and in tents set up in the woods.
“Not everyone is able to go to soup kitchens,” Hassan said. That is why the group Hassan founded, Muslims Against Hunger, delivers 800 meals each week to hungry people in the Washington area.
Hassan started Muslims Against Hunger in 2000, when he discovered hunger existed in his New Jersey community. Today, the Muslims volunteering for his group also work with individuals, businesses, and Jewish, Christian and Hindu groups to feed people in 23 cities across the U.S. and Canada.
In the Washington area, volunteers sign up online to prepare or deliver food. A “hunger van” brings food and utensils to four cooking locations and delivers the cooked meals. Sometimes the van screeches to an unplanned stop when its driver spots someone who appears to be homeless.
Hassan’s organization runs hunger vans in other major U.S. cities. “I don’t have to convince people to participate. They just come to us,” Hassan says. In the past decade, 3,000 people have volunteered.
According to Hassan, his group’s success depends on these volunteers and on connections to other faith groups and charities, such as the Salvation Army in Washington. “It’s about getting different communities involved,” Hassan says. As his organization inspired other faiths to join, they established a second organization, Faiths Against Hunger, for their combined efforts.
Hassan says Muslims Against Hunger is “not just about food, but it is about getting people involved in the issue of hunger.” And Americans are noticing. Even major television networks have highlighted the group’s efforts.