Christians and Muslims Offer Food for The Body and Hope for the Soul
February 12, 2021
Laura Bohorquez was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. She traveled to Dubuque, IA to study at Loras College, where she became involved in interfaith work through Children of Abraham dialogues, Better Together, the Interfaith Leadership Institute, and IFYC’s National Organizing Team. She continued her education with a master’s degree in International Relations at the University of Chicago. An immigrant herself, Laura is passionate about her work to educate immigrant families on their rights and help them find the resources they need to thrive at the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet in Illinois.
Working and living in the Chicago suburbs, I knew there is a rich cultural and religious diversity, and I wanted to get to know it better. I work in the Immigrant Support Program at Catholic Charities, Diocese of Joliet. Through work, I have gotten to interact with families from different countries, mostly from Latin America, and I applied to IFYC’s Leadership Fund hoping to open our doors to more members of our community.
My plan was for Catholic Charities to host a Mobile Food Pantry in collaboration with interfaith partners. At first, I reached out to different religious communities and organizations that I found online, but I didn’t hear back. So, I tapped into the IFYC Alumni community and other colleagues and was connected with the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Relief and the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry. Together with the Northern Illinois Food Bank, we secured a truck full of food, a place to host the event, volunteers for distribution, and several communities to spread the word.
Volunteers from ICNA Relief picked up the halal meat donations the day before the event, and we were ready to go!
The day of the event was cold, but the snow didn’t stop our volunteers from unloading the food, and the families from lining up in their cars.
One of my favorite parts of the event was seeing colleagues, volunteers, and participant families learning about each other and the community around us. Some were surprised to learn about the great diversity of families who live so close to our homes and workplaces. Others had a chance to learn about what it means for the meat to be halal and why it is important for many families that participated in the event.
In just a couple of hours, we served 104 families with a total of 476 individuals. Families drove from 29 different zip codes. In the drive-through food pantry, participants received fresh vegetables, meat, and other pantry staples. Leftover food remained at ICNA Relief’s pantry for additional families to access.
In the book of Matthew in the Bible, Jesus takes five loaves of bread and two fish, says a prayer, breaks the loaves, and shares them with the crowd that had gathered to see Him. In the end, He fed over 5,000 people. In our community, the funds awarded by IFYC were truly the loaves and fishes that multiplied and brought together different volunteers, donations, and additional funds to better serve our diverse community.
Thank you to IFYC, Catholic Charities Diocese of Joliet, ICNA Relief, Glen Ellyn Food Pantry, Wazwan Chicago, Zabiha Halal Fatima Brand.