New York City is increasing the supply and distribution of halal meals during Ramadan, Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press briefing on Thursday.
Muslims in the US may face difficulties securing halal food amid the coronavirus outbreak, with restaurants and stores experiencing operating restrictions due to shutdowns.
De Blasio told reporters it was painful to see challenges curtail religious services for Passover and Easter for Christians and Jews, and he expressed the same concern for Muslims observing Ramadan.
“And now we find ourselves once again about to celebrate a profoundly important holiday of one of our major faiths,” De Blasio said. “So, tonight marks the start of Ramadan and there’s hundreds of thousands of Muslim New Yorkers who for this moment, this is the most important time of the year. And I want to say to all of our Muslim brothers and sisters, you’ve been going through so much as we all have and not able to worship and not able to do the things that you’re used to doing as part of your faith, but you have shown strength as all New Yorkers have and you’ve joined with everyone else and fighting back this disease.”
De Blasio and New York City COVID-19 Food Czar Kathryn Garcia said the city would “significantly increase the city’s supply and distribution of halal meals during Ramadan” and was prepared to serve over 500,000 meals during Ramadan through partnerships with community-based organizations.
As part of this effort, De Blasio added, the city would increase the supply of halal meals at 32 sites across all five boroughs with large Muslim populations by 25 percent.
He said that included 400,000 meals in addition to the 32 receiving this increase, around 400 sites that offered halal food would continue to do so and an additional 150,000 meals would be served through nine community-based organizations that served Muslim New Yorkers.
The organizations include ICNA Relief, Apna/ICNA Relief, Al-Madinah Incorporated, Muslims Giving Back, Muslim Women’s Institute for Research and Development, American Council of Minority Women, Arab American Association of New York, Council of People’s Organization and the Yemeni American Merchants Association. The full list of school sites with increased halal meals are listed at schools.nyc.gov/ramadanmeals.
The city has distributed nearly 7 million meals across multiple programs, De Blasio said.
US President Donald Trump has also issued Ramadan greetings to Muslims, adding that the power of prayer could help the world get through the pandemic.
“I wish all Muslims, both in the United States and across the world, a blessed and peaceful Ramadan,” Trump said in a special message released on Thursday. “For millions around the globe, this holy month is an opportunity to renew and strengthen their faith through rigorous fasting, devout prayer, reflective meditation, reading the Qur’an, and charitable deeds. These acts are closely aligned with the universal values that the Islamic faith promotes — peace, kindness, and love and respect for others.”
He prayed that those observing Ramadan found “comfort and reassurance” in their faith.