Sadaqa Food Festival provides good food, good fun and good publicityWritten by Sakina bint Erik
The sun shone down on my family and me as we entered Brewer Park June 30, joining Ottawa Muslims and members of the greater community as they ate, shopped, and played at the Sadaqah Food Bank Food Festival, an innovative fundraising event.
People streamed in from the park's entrance and parking lot off Bronson Avenue, across from Carleton University. Large bouncy rides seen from the street invited children to come in and play while adults were lured in by the long line of tents offering food for sale.
The international cuisine on display included dishes from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and Turkey. Each cheerful volunteer took time to describe their dishes for those browsing. I peeked in each tent, making mental notes for later as I headed for the shade. With my boys playing on the three large bouncy castles, I joined my friends.
As lunchtime arrived, my children lined up with me to buy food from the vendors. While my mouth watered at the international delicacies, my children headed straight for the pizza stall. We sat in the shade to eat; pizza and pop in hand. Adjacent to the area was the public park, which boasts three play structures, swings, a slpash pad and water slide, and water cannons.
While I rested with the baby, my daughters and I caught up with our friends. You could tell by the smiles all around that the immense effort by the organisers and volunteers had not gone unnoticed and was appreciated by the guests. In addition to the food on sale, the event featured a bazaar and a silent auction.
Dhuhr (midday) prayer was offered in the middle of the field between the line of food stalls and the bazaar tables at the back, after which guests were treated to a lovely play by students of Ottawa's Furqaan Qur'an School.
They narrated and re-enacted the story from Surah Qalam (Chapter 68, “The Pen”), about the rich sons of a generous man who try to rob the poor of the charity set aside by their late father. The play was very well performed and researched and was well received by the crowd in the bleachers. Finishing off the beautiful performance, the actors recited the verses they had enacted from Surah Qalam, as well as other Quranic reminders of the importance of charity and helping the poor.
Over 1500 meals donated were completely sold out by day's end generating over $5,000 for the food bank. More importantly, the event gave a major exposure to the food bank particularly as it gears up for Ramadan.
The Muslim Association of Canada, Human Concern International, Prism and Village Green Dental Care were sponsors of the event. SFB also acknowledged donations and discounts from The Home Depot, Luna Cafe, Loblaws, NG Cash and Carry, Metro and Shoppers Drug Mart.
Demand at the food bank is however ongoing, and so are fundraising efforts. The next Sadaqa Food Bank Annual Fundraising Dinner is on Sunday September 23 at Centurion Hall with Dr Munir Elkassem as the main speaker.
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Sakina bint Erik is a local author, illustrator and educator. She home-schools her children and has been a Muslim since 1996. Presently pursuing a bachelor's degree at the Islamic Online University in Islamic Studies, she lectures about the important role of Muslim women scholars throughout history.