A host of local Muslim non-profits are among the many organizations out on the ground in Orange County distributing food to people in need.
A network of pantries have been distributing food for free for months now supporting people who have lost jobs during the pandemic or struggling financially. Many among the network are faith based or houses of worship like mosques, churches and gurudwaras serving anyone who is hungry.
ICNA Relief Southern California — part of a greater national organization — is a Muslim non-profit based in Fullerton. They have been doing food distributions throughout cities in Orange County and other neighboring counties for years prior to the pandemic.
Abdullah Zikria, the outreach coordinator of Southern California ICNA Relief, said through their years of service the organization has developed relationships with various cities in Orange County and elsewhere in Southern California as well as various food banks in the region.
During the pandemic, these relationships have helped the non-profit distribute food in local cities.
“In 2013, we started doing food services. Our people would come in and we would provide food for families, diapers and other things,” Zikria said. “Since COVID, We have definitely taken our food services to a whole different level that it’s never been before.”
When the pandemic started in March, ICNA Relief held 10 larger scale distributions. Since then they are averaging about 20 distributions a month across Orange County and other parts of Southern California and have given out over 800,000 pounds of food at over 130 distributions, according to Zikria.
Zikria also said Mayors and Members of Congress have reached out to ICNA Relief about food distributions.
“We don’t participate in the politics. We serve anybody. We work with everybody. We are a nonprofit,” Zikria said.
ICNA also works with school districts in Orange County to find schools with a high percent of students receiving a free lunch to reach the most vulnerable in each community.
“That’s a good indicator for us, that those are families that probably need this help,” Zikria said.
They’ve held distributions at schools and mosques throughout the County.
The group has also made ins with community organizers. Somedays the organization will go to cross streets near low income housing and hand out food items reaching out to local organizers to spread the word and through social media.
“Our distributions are so mobile, especially the neighborhood ones. We pick up items from Walmart, from Costco, from Target, three times a week and so it depends on what we get,” Zikria said. “Based on what we can get we’ve been able to see what neighborhood we can go to.”
Beyond food, they hold diaper distributions and offer medical and counseling services. The non-profit also operates a women’s transitional home for survivors of domestic violence.
ICNA Relief Southern California has only four staff members but they have close to 100 volunteers who help them be able to get the food out to people.
Muhib John Aziz, a Garden Grove Resident, and his family volunteer with ICNA Relief to help those in need.
“My favorite thing is that I get joy out of helping others,” Aziz said.
He added that another motivation for him is to engrain in children and family the importance of giving back to the community.
“We are here to help humanity, especially those in need and to go out of our way to help our human brothers and sisters,” Aziz said.
Another Muslim Based nonprofit, Uplift Charity, has also been active distributing boxes of food on every month to Orange County Residents. The charity has distributed thousands of boxes of food since the pandemic started and around 1,600 boxes during Ramadan this year as well as over 2,000 meals in Orange and Los Angeles Counties.
This Saturday Uplift Charity is holding a special drive through food distribution of food boxes at Al-Ansar Mosque in Anaheim from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
This week’s distribution will be to honor case manager Raihan Dakhil, her husband Joseph Awaida and their 3-year-old son Omar who were killed by an alleged DUI driver in Long Beach last Halloween.
Ahmed Almukhtar, Uplift Charity’s director of operations, said the family was very active in giving back to the community.
“Raihan was part of Uplift Charity. She worked with Uplift Charity for more than two years as an amazing case manager. She changed a lot of lives,” Almukhtar said. “They were very active in charity events, they were very active in volunteering, and assisting their community in Long Beach and in Orange County.”
Uplift Charity will also be distributing Hijabs and face masks on Saturday as well.
For anybody in need of food or a desire to volunteer, pantries across Orange County are handing it out for free.
Saturday Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Al-Ansar Mosque in Anaheim
1717 S Brookhurst St Anaheim, CA 92804
Friday Nov. 13 at 3:30 p.m. at Monarch Apartments in Anaheim
1860 West Crescent Ave. Anaheim, CA 92801
Friday Nov. 20 at 3 p.m. at Islamic Society of Orange County in Garden Grove.
9752 13th street, Garden Grove, CA 92844
Those who wish to volunteer with the organization can reach out to them on Facebook or at 714 399-4571.
Saturday Nov. 14 and 21 from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. at Calvary Church in Santa Ana
3800 S Fairview St, Santa Ana, CA 92704
Every Thursday and Saturday from 8 -11 a.m. at IKEA in Costa Mesa for Curbside pickup.
1475 S Coast Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
By appointment. Sign up before 2 p.m. the day before to get an appointment.
Saturday Nov. 14 from 8-10:30 a.m. or until supplies last at the Gurudwara
And on Nov. 21 it will be from 8:30-11 a.m.
2530 Warner Ave., Santa Ana, CA 92704
714 584 7573
Every Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
20652 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
949 497 7121
Monday from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. at SALK Elementary
1411 Gilbert St. Anaheim, CA 92804
Wednesday & Thursday from 9-11 a.m. at the Vineyard Anaheim Church
5340 E La Palma Ave. Anaheim, CA 92807
Saturday from 9-11 a.m. at the Brookhurst Community Center
2271 Crescent Ave. Anaheim, CA 92801
Turkey Giveaway on Friday Nov. 20 from 10 a.m. until supplies last in La Habra
101 West La Habra Boulevard La Habra, CA 90631
Turkey Giveaway on Saturday Nov. 21 from 9 a.m. until supplies last in Anaheim
201 W. Center St. Promenade Anaheim, CA 92805
Turkey Giveaway on Sunday Nov. 22 from 10 a.m. until supplies last in Fullerton
303 W Commonwealth Ave Fullerton
For more food assistance options visit 211 OC.
If you operate a drive through food pantry in Orange County and would like our newsroom to be aware of your efforts, reach out to Hosam Elattar at [email protected] or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.
Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him @[email protected] or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.