Facing Rising Prices, Astoria Welfare Society Distributes Staples for Holy Month
By Alicia Venter
The Astoria Welfare Society partnered with Hydro-Quebec and Queens Together to support the needs of Islam-practicing Astorians with a food drive for the start of Ramadan on Thursday.
Over 150 families were fed on the first day of Ramadan, each given staple cooking ingredients including flour, dates, beans and oil — these basic items are crucial for the month of Ramadan, explained Md. Jabed Uddin, the general secretary of the Astoria Welfare Society.
“Every week, in different places, we are serving the community,” he said. The Astoria Welfare Society is also keeping a community fridge for Ramadan, and is distributing food to mosques throughout the area to break fast.
Ramadan is the holy month of fasting in Islam, and the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Observed by Muslims across the world, it is a month of prayer, reflection and fasting, abstaining from food and drink between dawn to sunset. This fasting is to increase spiritual discipline and strengthen one’s relationship with Allah.
Hydro-Quebec donated $2,000 for the food drive after Peter Rose, the Director of Stakeholder Relations in New York, was told by Uddin that the Astoria Welfare Society wouldn’t be able to host a food drive this year. Without any other financial support, Rose was more than willing to offer what the Astoria Welfare Society needed.
“This was a basic community need that was not being met. As a good corporate citizen, this was something we should help with, so I’m really happy,” Rose said.
With the Consumer Price Index showing a drastic six percent increase in inflation for New York City, the average cost of living for residents has inherently grown with it.
“I go to the grocery store and everything is more expensive. It wouldn’t surprise me that people are going to have a hard time getting just the basics for Ramadan. So I said yeah, we are going to sponsor this, because it’s the most important month of the entire year,” Rose shared.
Hydro-Quebec is an electricity company based in Canada that generates more than 99% of its electricity from water. In a 25-year contract with the city, Rose expressed how their long-time permanence in New York gives them an obligation to participate and support the community. Notably, they have been involved in the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens, and have partnered with a local laundromat to ensure low-income children have access to clean clothes for school.
“We do all these community projects because we need to leave a legacy,” Rose said. “We need to help support the community in the needs they have.”
Soon after Hydro-Quebec threw their support behind the food drive, Queens Together, with Councilwoman Julie Won’s office, provided $1,000 for the drive.
A restaurant association and community service organization, Queens Together started in 2020 — the start of the pandemic — to help small businesses and the community.
“Give people the staples they need to cook, and that empowers them to take care of their families,” shared Jonathan Forgash, co-founder and Executive Director of Queens Together.