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Posts tagged: Iftar

USDA’s Iftar Dinner Reflects a Common Calling – Rebuilding and Strengthening Communities in Need

Pictured (Left to Right) Dr. Mohamed El-Sanousi, Director of Communications and Community Outreach of the Islamic Society of North America, Dr. Abed Ayoub, President of Islamic Relief USA, Michael Scuse, then-acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Imam Faizul Khan of the Islamic Society of the Washington Area

Pictured (Left to Right) Dr. Mohamed El-Sanousi, Director of Communications and Community Outreach of the Islamic Society of North America, Dr. Abed Ayoub, President of Islamic Relief USA, Michael Scuse, then-acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Imam Faizul Khan of the Islamic Society of the Washington Area

As Hunger Action Month comes to a close, I am reminded of an employee event we held last month in honor of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. For many followers of the Islamic faith, the month of Ramadan – known as a time of fasting and sacrifice – is also a time of reflection.  As we deal with hunger and thirst from sunrise to sunset, we are reminded of those who deal with hunger – and poverty – every day. As we reflect on our spiritual responsibilities, we must also recall our obligation to help others in times of need.  For Muslim employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), this holds especially true.

USDA touches the lives of every American.  Our nutrition and food safety programs ensure that all America’s children have access to safe, nutritious, balanced meals, while our rural development programs promote prosperous, self-sustaining communities.  Our conservation programs protect our national forests and private working lands, while our agricultural support programs promote American agriculture and biotechnology while increasing food security around the world. Read more »

Feed the Future: Together We Can

This week, USDA was honored to join forces with USAID and Islamic Relief USA to host the department’s 4th annual Iftar celebration. The event welcomed over 170 guests, including representatives from humanitarian organizations, faith-based groups and federal employees.  This year’s Iftar called attention to the importance of reducing food insecurity abroad with the theme “Feed the Future: Together We Can.” Iftar is an evening gathering held each year during Ramadan.  A time of spiritual cleansing in the Islamic faith, Ramadan is when Muslims fast, abstaining from food and water from sunrise until sunset. Iftar is the meal at which Muslims break their fast each night. For many Muslims, fasting is an act of empathy towards those around the world who go hungry not by choice, but instead by circumstance.

USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, speaks about Feed the Future

USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, speaks about Feed the Future

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Food and Faith: Setting a Safe and Healthy Table

More than 200 employees and community members gathered at USDA headquarters to mark the Department’s 3rd annual Iftar dinner.  The theme of the evening was food safety, and Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, provided keynote remarks.

More than 200 employees and community members gathered at USDA headquarters to mark the Department’s 3rd annual Iftar dinner. The theme of the evening was food safety, and Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, provided keynote remarks.

Last week we were honored to host USDA’s 3rd annual Iftar commemorating the month of Ramadan and the contributions of USDA’s Muslim employees.  More than 200 attendees, including USDA employees, Muslim community members, and representatives from faith-based and secular non-profit organizations, gathered at USDA headquarters for an evening with a themed focus on “Food and Faith: Setting a Safe and Healthy Table.” Read more »

USDA hosts its first ever Iftar dinner to recognize Muslim employees

In his speech at the University of Cairo on June 4, 2009, President Obama called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims at home and around the world. As a way to answer the President’s call, Secretary Vilsack hosted USDA’s first-ever Iftar dinner to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Thursday, September 10th, in the Whitten Building patio. More than 200 USDA employees and members of the local community, both Muslim and non-Muslim, were present for this historical event.

Ramadan FSIS employee from California with Secretary Vilsackis holiest month of the year on the Islamic calendar, and runs from August 21 to September 19 this year. During Ramadan, Muslims fast each day from sunrise to sunset, not even drinking water. At sunset, they break their fast with dates (ours were American grown) and water, the act of which is called “iftar.” After evening prayers, Muslims sit down with family and friends for a large late dinner. The White House has been holding annual Iftar dinners since 2002, and other government agencies such as the Department of Defense and USAID host them as well. As a result, Muslim employees at USDA were extremely excited about the prospect of having our very own Iftar here at “the People’s Department.” One FSIS employee and his spouse flew to Washington, D.C. all the way from California at their own expense just to have the chance to attend.

The theme for USDA’s Iftar dinner was “A Common Calling – Feeding Hungry People.” Secretary Vilsack addressed the gathering on USDA’s mission to alleviate hunger at home and around the world, a commitment shared by all major religions. He also spoke eloquently about the legacy of Abraham, who is viewed as the common ancestor of Jews, Christians, and Muslims all over the world. The Secretary also spoke of USDA’s commitment to a modern, inclusive workforce that attracts the best and most effective workers of all backgrounds and faith traditions.

Also addressing the attendees were Mr. Sabir Rahman, Executive Director for Interfaith Dialogue at the Muslim Community Center of Silver Spring; Ms. Amina Makhdoom, Chair of the Montgomery County Committee on Hate and Violence; and Dr. Yaser Haddara, the Board Chair of Islamic Relief USA.

During the meal, guests had a chance to watch President Obama’s Ramadan video message, as well as a video on USDA’s involvement in Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan.

The event Farook Sait, with the Assistant Sec. for Civil Rightswas co-sponsored by USDA’s Organization of South Asian Americans in Agriculture and USDA’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. It was a wonderful opportunity for the Department to celebrate the wide diversity of backgrounds of those called to serve “every day, in every way” at USDA.