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Nourishing students’ body and soul during Ramadan

Local doctor has been providing warm meals and kinship for almost 30 years

What started as a few non-perishable food and drink items served out of a small room at Durham College back in 1995 has quickly grown into a community haven for hundreds of Muslim students at Ontario Tech University, Durham College, and Trent University during the month of Ramadan.

Two volunteers hand out free Ramadan meals to students.As a family physician in the Campus Health Centre between 1991 and 2012 and an immigrant to Canada, Dr. Yasmeen Siddiqui is familiar with how challenging and lonely it can be to move away from your family.

“Ramadan is a sacred month, and it's a family month. Everybody's busy with their own families, fasting, and worship. Yet, for many students, coming to university is the first time away from home. They often don’t know anybody and have no idea where to access food to break their fast. By 9:30, 10 p.m., the dining halls and local restaurants are closed,” Dr. Siddiqui explains. “That’s why I dedicated myself to this program. By providing nourishing meals during Ramadan, we show these students that they are not alone. We create a sense of belonging.”

Initially, Dr. Siddique provided meals to between 15 and 35 students, and the program quickly grew to serve healthy, nutritious buffet-style meals to nearly 100 students, staff and visiting scholars from Durham’s three post-secondary institutions. During the pandemic, the program shifted to curbside pickup from Campus Living Centres.

More than 280 students signed up for the program this year, with over 5,300 meals served during the five-week fast. Dr. Siddiqui rallied support from the Muslim community, alumni and current students who support the program through donations, meals, and logistics.

“I have worked hard to bring this program to this level and to be available during Ramadan every year. But, when you selflessly give and help somebody in need, support comes to you in unprecedented ways. I still cannot believe I have fed so many students for almost 30 years, but the help keeps pouring in,” says Dr. Siddiqui. “With the demand for meals increasing, I need all the help I can get to manage the program and feed our growing community of Muslim students, faculty, and staff.”

Dr. Siddiqui's selfless commitment to ensuring that no student goes hungry during Ramadan has not wavered. But, she can't do it alone. We invite you to join us in supporting this vital mission.  Together, we can make sure that every student experiences the warmth of community and the nourishment of a shared meal during this sacred month.

Thank you for your support of this year’s Ramadan meal program. Any donations received after April 10 will be carried forward to support the Ramadan program in 2025.

Donate today!

Our commitment is to ensure a sustainable, transparent, and efficient philanthropic program. To help achieve this, 5% of donations to expendable funds, with the exception of student financial support, are used to partially offset the costs of receipting, administering, tracking and distributing funds. Thank you for your support.  

Charitable Registration Number - 85924 8049 RR0001