Ramadan 2022 is the third year of Penny Appeal Australia’s Iftar Kitchen program, partnering with other local organisations to deliver hot meals and dignity hygiene packs in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.  This year adding Brisbane as a fourth city each Friday.

“COVID-19 was a sharp reminder of that old saying that charity begins at home,” says Mohamed Mayat CEO of Penny Appeal Australia.

“Year round, Penny Australia strives to address hunger, clean drinking water and a range of problems besetting people in countries around the world. But at home, with the challenges so many people have faced over the last two years, our Iftar Kitchens have become an important Ramadan initiative for us to ensure we also respond to local needs – especially for the homeless, unemployed, low-income families, elderly and refugees. Giving back to the local community hasn’t been the first priority for Australian Muslim charities but there was and is a real need to make sure our neighbours are supported and, as with Christmas, to make sure no-one is alone during Ramadan.”

This year, Penny Appeal has partnered with Healing Hands Foundation and Recipes for Ramadan to expand its Iftar Kitchen program.

The Healing Hands Foundation has committed to match whatever funds Penny Appeal raises in Australia up to $15,000 to fund more local Iftar Kitchens, more hot meals and more dignity packs here in Australia.

The kitchens are staffed by volunteers. Next Monday, Dena Abdel-Fattah will be head chef in an Egyptian Iftar Kitchen, producing 250 meals in the kitchens of Gallipoli Mosque in the Sydney suburb of Auburn. The menu options will include one of Egypt’s national dishes Ful Medames with hummus and / or tahini.

Dena will also be showing the volunteers how to cook another Egyptian national dish, Koshari which she describes as “Real comfort food regularly served in every Egyptian home – a vegan meal of lentils, rice, pasta, chickpeas, tomato sauce and fried onions. Like ful, it’s relatively easy to cook in bulk, prepare ahead of time and to re-heat as needed.”

Penny Appeal volunteers and Gallipoli Mosque staff will distribute the meals locally – and Dena’s recipes will be available later in the week on www.recipesforramadan.com for everyone else to try at home.

On Saturday 23 April, an Iftar Kitchen will focus on Somali food. Working again at Gallipoli Mosque kitchens, the chef and menu is yet to be confirmed but meals will be distributed both with the Somali Australian Community Association (SACA) to people struggling in the Somali community and with Brothers in Need in Martin Place in Sydney’s CBD.  Recipes and the stories of the chefs will again be shared by Recipes for Ramadan.

The dignity packs include everyday hygiene essentials such as shampoos and body wash, toothbrushes, toothpaste and sanitary pads and along with good nutritious food, make a huge difference in people’s quality of life.

Keep an eye on social media for stories, reels and photos over the next three weeks of Ramadan – and if you are able to support this local initiative, please head to  www.pennyappeal.org.au/iftar-kitchens. Donations small and large make a huge difference to someone else.

“We want to help as many poor and needy people around the world as we can,” says Mohamed Mayat, “and we are proud of the way our At Home program has developed to provide much-needed support to the most vulnerable in our own local community. Under our other appeals, we are of course still providing millions of life-saving nutritious meals to families in need around the world for just $4 per meal. You might spend $60 on a meal out but the same money can also feed 15 hungry people somewhere else.”