By Sophia Lopez, April 13 2022—
In 2022, Ramadan falls within the month of April — a tradition celebrated where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset until the end of the month. While fasting is a major part of the month, Ganiyat Sadiq, the Students’ Union (SU) Campus Food Bank coordinator, spoke with the Gauntlet on other aspects of Ramadan that are often not spoken about.
“[Ramadan] is usually a month of humility amongst others, remembering our privileges and just giving back to the rest of the community,” said Sadiq.
This year, the SU Campus Food Bank is introducing Ramadan Hampers in addition to the regular food hampers already available. This new initiative is intended to support the Muslim community on campus by offering food items that are traditionally consumed during this time.
Sadiq elaborated on what inspired the SU to start this initiative, and how an idea was put forth by Nikhat Ahmed, the student services manager at the SU.
“It was [Ahmed’s] idea that she put forth, and as someone who celebrates Ramadan myself, it was something that I looked forward to,” said Sadiq. “I’m just very excited. This is something that we’ve been planning for most of the year.”
Although general food hampers for the campus community are already being supplied for those who may be experiencing food insecurity, Sadiq explained how the SU Campus Food Bank believed it was necessary to also help Muslim students who may also be facing this issue.
“We do have a lot of students experiencing food insecurity, and if they happen to be Muslim, they’re going to be fasting all day,” she said. “So being able to provide that security is something that I hold very close to my heart, as someone who understands how hard it is to fast all day.”
Sadiq believes the SU is doing a great job in recognizing different traditions that are celebrated by the University of Calgary community and accommodating to the needs of different groups of people. She sees this as a step forward in breaking barriers that exist for the Muslim community.
“We try to make sure most of our food items are halaal and make sure that they can be eaten by Muslims — I know that might be a barrier that people face in other realms,” said Sadiq. “In being the Food Bank coordinator, I’ve been able to see how we make sure [students] respect people’s religious values and religious beliefs. I think in general there is always more to be done to celebrate the community, but I think with Ramadan Hampers it’s a very, very good start.”
As a Muslim herself, Sadiq is proud to be a part of this process of creating change at U of C. She expressed how rewarding it has been to help establish Ramadan Hampers.
“It feels honestly amazing,” she said. “I’m so honoured to be able to be one of the people leading it and supporting its creation. When I was growing up, it was something I’ve never heard of, and it’s never been offered at the University of Calgary before. So it feels really great to be a part of our change.”
Feedback received on the Ramadan Hampers has been very positive, and Sadiq said the number of hamper requests the SU Campus Food Bank has received continues to grow.
“We’ve seen a lot of Muslim students on campus respond very positively to it. So I think it’s a support that a lot of Muslim people do appreciate,” said Sadiq.
While the Ramadan Hampers was an initiative intended for Muslism students, Sadiq explained how the hampers could be requested by anyone, regardless of their religious beliefs.
“Even though they are Ramadan Hampers and it is majorly celebrated by Muslims, anyone and everyone can have a Ramadan Hamper if they request for one — so it’s not exclusionary in any form,” she said.
Sadiq is ecstatic to have this initiative going, and hopes that the hampers will help students.
“I think I’m just very excited,” said Sadiq. “This is something that we’ve been planning for most of the year, so I’m very excited that the time is here and that we’re able to offer this support.”