DEARBORN — 17-year-old Aya Alcodray, a student at Dearborn High School, understood that the COVID-19 outbreak had adversely affected many of her fellow students and their families. Many students rely on lunches their schools provide; and while schools continue to provide food during the weekdays, Aya knew something needed to be done for families struggling to put food on the table on the weekends.
With Ramadan around the corner, she began to flesh out and organize a plan to both prepare and distribute food to dozens of families in the area. With the support of her parents, Tahrik and Rana, and assistance from others who became aware of her efforts, Aya is set to feed some 80 families in her school district this Ramadan weekend.
Aya’s parents told The Arab American News this week that she wanted to help fulfill the needs of families that still required assistance on the weekends. The economic crisis in Michigan has created unprecedented unemployment and a halt to most business activity, and social distancing measures have made acquiring food an overwhelming task for many families.
“She approached us and said she wanted to help by starting a project to deliver food on the weekends and reached out to her school’s administration as well,” Tahrik Alcodray said. “She coordinated with them in getting access to a list of families that were in need, along with their names, addresses and contact information.”
The first delivery: A meal of whole roasted chicken with garlic and pickles, home-made macaroni and cheese and a side of vegetables. Aya is heavily involved in the preparation of the meal with assistance from her mother. Her father owns a building in West Dearborn that has a commercial kitchen which will be utilized for the project. The remarkably organized Aya has been in contact with families that will be expecting the food and has put herself in charge of other logistics.
Volunteers will help deliver the meal, with Aya’s father filling in the gaps. Some families will also be able to pick up food. Besides the chickens, which have to be bought roasted, Rana Alcodray said she and Aya are using the freshest ingredients available for the rest of the meal. Aya’s plan is to have the food delivered to all families early evening, so that those observing Ramadan may warm theirs for iftar as needed.
We are a great community. There is no reason why any family in need isn’t helped. — Aya Alcodray
“Aya told her dad she’ll be using her savings and allowance money for the project,” Rana Alcodray said. “Aya and I are preparing mac and cheese for each member of the family on the list, which means if there are 10 people in a family, they will be receiving 10 containers.”
Aya has taken care of logistics and outreach for the program, reaching out to social media pages and other avenues for donations and assistance. Now Dearborn Credit Union has agreed to provide funding for next weekend’s delivery. With this encouragement, Aya has made aiding families a long term goal.
“We are a great community,” she said. “There is no reason why any family in need isn’t helped.”