Multifaith soup kitchen in Montreal preparing meals for less fortunate

ICYMI: “There’s no representation and it mattered to us so that our future generations could see,” says Nafissah Rahman, one of the founders of Shathi Sisters, a group of women making meals for Montrealers in need. Melina Giubilaro has more.

By Melina Giubilaro

MONTREAL (CityNews) — With food insecurity becoming a bigger problem since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, five women are cooking up a storm to help hundreds of Montrealers in need.

The co-founders of the Shathi Sisters — a multifaith soup kitchen — get together once a month to cook for the city’s less fortunate.

“We have a lot of spaces, but it’s not people of colour,” said Nafissah Rahman, one of the co-founders. “And there’s no representation. And it mattered to us that the representation of ourselves, so that our future generations can see that we too, we have to do this.”

Added co-founder Rumana Sobhan: “That time the pandemic was going on, many people lost their homes. They are homeless. So it was a great timing for us to start with this.”

The five co-founders of the Shathi Sisters. (Credit: FACEBOOK/Nafissah Rahman)

Shathi is a Bangladeshi word that means togetherness. That spirit is at the core of what drives the women to operate their multifaith soup kitchen out of the St. George’s Anglican Church in downtown Montreal.

Since December, the Shathi Sisters spend one Saturday a month cooking 100 meals for those in need. They manage to keep their food costs under $100.

“It’s not just scraps of food, but it’s the thought about how, when we are producing it — like for our family members — that it’s still delicious, food that people enjoy, healthy and low cost,” said Rahman.

Their food is distributed to different organizations across the island like Resilience Montreal and the Old Brewery Mission.

“We think it’s our duty to do this,” said Irene Mazumder. “Not just because there’s people in need. It’s our duty. If we’re able to help, then why not.”

Credit: FACEBOOK/Nafissah Rahman

And the Shathi Sisters aren’t stopping there. They hope to expand their services and grow as a community to be able to provide more food on a weekly basis to all those in need, regardless of their faith.

“The purpose of my engagement, it’s serving the community,” said Sobhan. “And maybe we started with a soup kitchen, maybe we can do more things. More projects.”

Added Rahman: “Often women from Bangladesh take care of others and not enough of themselves. So the idea is to come out and say we take care of ourselves. Self care.”

Due to months of public health restrictions, the Shahti Sisters say meeting up every four weeks fulfilled their need to connect in person.

“The fact that we were able to see each other once a month actually really boosted our morale,” said Mazumder. “We always chat, we have a group chat. Chatting is nice but seeing and being together is a different feeling.”

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