Gathering at the 2016 Muslim Student Association Fast-A-Thon in the Ohio Union. Credit: Courtesy of Muslim Student Association

The Muslim Student Association invites people of all faiths to fast from sunrise to sunset Friday to stand in solidarity for food security across the globe.

Fast-A-Thon, the group’s annual charity banquet, will feature a variety of discussions centering around food security, and attendees will break their fasts together with an authentic Middle Eastern dinner provided by Lavash Cafe in Clintonville.

According to its Facebook page, MSA has two goals for the event: to dispel common myths about individuals who cannot afford fresh, healthy foods and to explore different perspectives on food security through the lens of different religions.

Said Haji, co-outreach chairman for MSA and a third-year in biology, said this year, food security was chosen because it is an issue that hits home for a lot of students on campus and affects people in a variety of ways.

“The event allows for those who don’t know about food security to become more aware about the topic and hear panelists speak on the issue,” Haji said. “Students get to hear the different ways people think and approach the problem at hand. We hope that students can leave Fast-A-Thon having learned something new about food security and how it affects the surrounding community.”

The event will feature a panel of educators invited to discuss food security through different points of views. Panelists will include Michelle Kaiser, a professor in the College of Social Work who specializes in research on food security; Brian Snyder, an executive director for the Initiative for Food and Agriculture transformation, also known as InFACT; and Dorothy Hassan, who runs a food pantry on the westside of Columbus and will be speaking on food security from an Islamic perspective.

Taking a step beyond the typical banquet, attendees will be seated at random for the participation of small group discussions. Haji said the small-table discussions will encourage intimate conversation and allow attendees to discuss the topic at hand and reflect on their own views.

All proceeds from the event will go to the Buckeye Food Alliance and My Project USA. Nicole Pierron Rasul, a program coordinator for InFACT, said the organization decided to promote the Fast-A-Thon because this year’s theme aligned with its focus.

InFACT is a program designed with the vision of transforming Ohio State into one of the leading models and practical examples of agricultural and food systems that are climate-resilient, secure and equitable.

“There are many threats to the supply of our foods, and the Fast-A-Thon event is a great way of bringing attention and awareness to those threats,” Pierron Rasul said.

Tickets are $10 for MSA members, $15 for Ohio State students or faculty, $20 for general attendees and $150 for a table seating 10 people. Doors will open at 5:20 p.m. and the event will start at 6 p.m.