A Long Island food pantry now has halal cuisine, an effort to reach those in need but unable to accept food unless it adheres to Islamic law.
Community leaders and elected officials celebrated the new dietary offerings Saturday in Bay Shore at the Pronto of Long Island food pantry. The pantry, at 128 Pine Aire Dr., is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Halal food is processed according to Islamic law and is free of forbidden ingredients, such as pork.
Assemb. Phil Ramos (D-Brentwood), who was among those attending the ceremony, said halal food at the pantry serves an unmet need in the community.
"Throughout the pandemic, we had a lot of Muslim families who were in need but for religious reasons were unable to accept food from pantries or different organizations," he said. "So what this food pantry does is it attends to the needs of a segment of our community that is growing fast."
Introducing hahal food items to the pantry is a result of a collaboration between Pronto and the Progressive American Community Empowerment group, which is primarily a Pakistani American organization.
Saturday’s event in Bay Shore coincided with Pakistan’s Independence Day, an event marking the day in 1947 when the country declared itself free from the British Indian Empire.
The community group's chairman, Saeed Hassan, said the organization hopes the food pantry will also act as outreach in bringing legal, language and other services to Long Island's Islamic community.
Hassan said the Islamic religion is one that stresses the importance of giving, but its adherents can be hesitant to accept charity.
"If you don't have it, don't feel bad," Hassan said. "It's there."