The following is an excerpt from an article posted in the  April  in  2020: 

Poverty, hunger, and access to quality health care are large enough problems to deal with during seemingly normal times.

In the wake of the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic, those social issues are significantly magnified, as it inadvertently spotlights the systemic or endemic inequities that exist in some of America’s communities. Birmingham, like many other cities with diverse populations, is no exception.

Thus, it is essential during this anxiety-filled period that all sectors of our society–government, the private sector, nonprofit organizations, faith communities, academia, among others — pull together and collectively find solutions.

Islamic Relief USA, a humanitarian and advocacy organization, has awarded a $10,000 grant to the Birmingham Islamic Society. The grant will help the center administer its social services in the wake of Covid-19 to assist more people (regardless of their faith) in obtaining things like food parcels and hygiene kits.

Both of those items speak to the larger issues of food security and public health. In Birmingham, along with other parts of Alabama, there’s still some progress needed in these, and other, issues stemming from poverty.

A 2018 report found Alabama to be the sixth poorest state in the nation, with some 800,000 residents living below the poverty level. The state’s food insecurity rate stood at 17.7 percent.

Covid-19 is likely to teach the different pillars of our society a myriad of lessons. But one of the key points it has already shown is the importance of investing and continually supporting quality safety net programs in order to be well-positioned to cope with unpredictable events. We call on all elected officials, regardless of party, to take this into consideration.

Sharif Aly is the chief executive officer of Islamic Relief USA, a nonprofit humanitarian and advocacy organization that works to alleviate poverty and hunger in more than 40 countries. Syed M. Hassan, IRUSA’s communications specialist, contributed to this report.



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