Members of the Muslim Students’ Association making sandwiches on Sunday for The Project Downtown in the Union. Credit: Courtesy of Muslim Student Association

Every Sunday, Muslim Students’ Association at Ohio State can be found at local churches handing out bagged lunches to those in need in the greater Columbus community. 

Project Downtown, started by the MSA in 2011, provides about 100 bagged lunches every Sunday. The brown paper bags packed by Ohio State students include a sandwich, fruit and other snacks.

Anis Belouadah, a third-year in biology and co-director of Project Downtown, said the project started because students wanted to “make a change” in the Columbus area.

“It’s easy for a lot of people to ignore poverty and other socioeconomic issues, but the fact that you are meeting the people who eat the food you made really puts things into perspective,” Belouadah said.

Belouadah said that the project provides a worldly outlook outside of campus.

“It really puts things into perspective for us and teaches us empathy that we can’t really learn in a classroom,” Belouadah said.

Oumou Fofana, a fourth-year in biochemistry and former director of Project Downtown, said she always tried to give a dollar or a water bottle to the homeless people she would see in downtown Columbus and decided to get involved with Project Downtown after she realized the impact the program had on people. 

“With this project, we see how Columbus actually is and see how people really need these meals,” Fofana said.

In the days leading up to handing out the meals, Fofana said she would gather the money needed for the supplies, and begin the sandwich-making process on Sunday afternoons.

There are many ways to be a part of the difference Project Downtown is making, but just “showing up to help is enough,” Belouadah said.  

For more information regarding MSA and Project Downtown, contact