The 15th Annual Chicago Muslim Turkey Drive distributed 1,500 turkeys to families in the south side of Chicago. The Drive is sponsored by local Muslims with support from Sabeel Food Pantry, an initiative of the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA®), the Mohammed Webb Foundation, Inner-city Muslim Action Network (IMAN), and the Chicago Public Schools. Chicago area Muslims donated the funds to purchase the turkeys which were distributed at Emmett Till Math and Science Academy, William Fiske Elementary School, and Fairfield Academy as well as at IMAN’s office on November 24th. Recipients had been given vouchers earlier that could be redeemed for a turkey.
The Turkey Drive began in 2001 when a group of local Muslims approached the staff of a nearby public school and asked, ‘Do you think there would be a need for donated turkeys this Thanksgiving?’ The staff of McCosh Elementary (now Emmett Till Academy) in Jackson Park replied with an enthusiastic ‘yes!’ The neighborhood had seen its share of hard times over the years, with over 90% of its students below the federal poverty line according to Chicago Public School statistics. The Muslim group then sought donations from friends and family and that year bought 188 turkeys from the local supermarket which the school distributed to its students.
From those humble beginnings, the Turkey Drive has become a cherished institution, having distributed over 7,000 free turkeys at Thanksgiving. Every year, Sabeel Food Pantry works with local coordinators to raise the funds to purchase turkeys for distribution at the schools. With support of the Chicago Muslim community, the Drive has been able to increase the number of turkeys distributed as well as expand the number of distribution locations.
Thanks to everyone who donated to the Drive as well as our friends at the Mohammed Webb Foundation and IMAN. Special thanks to our friends at Emmett Till Math and Science Academy, William Fiske Elementary School, and Fairfield Academy.