About 300 students pledged to not eat for a day on Friday as part of Fast-A-Thon at the University of Central Florida to raise awareness for fighting hunger and homelessness.
The Muslim Student Association organized the event to raise awareness for the hundreds that experience chronic hunger on a daily basis in the Orlando area.
Partnering with Project Downtown, Orlando, and ICNA Relief Hunger Prevention Program, 300 students pledged to fast for a day.
Huddled in the Pegasus Ballroom, located in UCF’s Student Union, the Fast-A-Thon participants silenced themselves for a moment to honor the three victims of the Chapel Hill shooting last week. They then broke their fast for a banquet and heard from guest speakers, Arthur Richards and Nadine Abu-Jubara.
The banquet was open to the public and people from all different faiths were welcome.
Abu-Jubara, executive director at Nadoona a non-profit health and fitness center, is a UCF alumna. She said fasting gives her clarity and brings her closer to her Creator. After the tragedy of the Chapel Hill shooting this week, clarity and comfort are what Abu-Jubara sought, especially when she learned the victims were distant relatives of hers whom she’d never met.
“As Palestinians we have a lot of long-lost cousins, we like to plant our seeds far, and this really shocked me,” Abu-Jubara said.
Islam teaches that followers should not eat in excess. Abu-Jubara said that since our bodies are gifts from God we should take care of them and simultaneously end the rising obesity issue by helping to feed the hungry.
Project Downtown: Orlando, a branch from the original in Miami, is a non-profit focusing on the needs of the homeless in Orlando. On the third Sunday of every month, volunteers of all different ethnic and religious backgrounds come together to serve hot meals to the homeless. But for them, it is much more than a bite to eat. Mahnoor Ashraf, co-director of Project Downtown, said that it is all about the interactions and conversations that are started.
“Part of the Project Downtown project is not just to hand them a meal and be on our way, but to stop and listen and get to know their situation, greeting them with a smile because that is it’s own form of charity,” Ashraf said.
Arthur Richards, Hunger Prevention Director at ICNA, inspired students to pledge to fast, and raise awareness for the 3,000 children in Orange County alone who do not know where their next meal is coming from on a daily basis. He challenged MSA to start a food drive benefiting the homeless in Orlando and to check out nation-wide campaigns happening at feedtheirlegacy.org.
“We would like UCF and specifically MSA, to organize a campus-wide food drive, so that when [the homeless] see and feel the love that you have for them maybe, just maybe it will be enough for them to become the presidents and leaders of tomorrow,” Richards said. “I offer you an opportunity to be the crutches that our broken members of our community need and allow them to go and help others in need.”