Kansas; Pittsburg — Twins Sania and Alizeh Hammad of Pittsburg, Kansas didn’t have a typical summer before their junior year of high school: while their classmates were lounging at the beach and spending time with friends, the 16-year-old sisters were hard at work founding a nonprofit to provide food security to those food-insecure in their community of Southwest Missouri.
The nonprofit, which would later be known as Sate Crate, was created in response to a significant number of refugees relocating to where the Hammad sisters lived.
“Having experienced two refugee influxes to our area, an area that was already designated high in food insecurity by the Economic Research Service of the USDA, we felt motivated to help our neighbors,” said Sania Hammad, 18.
Sate Crate is a free food pantry stocked with nonperishables and allows people to drop off or take food anonymously. In July 2022, Sate Crate was placed at the Islamic Society of Joplin, due to the growing number of refugee families who settled in the area from Somalia and Afghanistan. Though initially created for refugees, the sisters emphasize that the pantry is open for all.
“In general, food insecurity around the world continues to grow. Whereas 7.9% of the world’s population in 2019 faced hunger, it grew to 9.2% in 2022. Refugees are disproportionately more exposed to such insecurity. We wanted a change, and realized it must start at a community level.”
The Hammad sisters were inspired by the concept of Little Free Libraries, which allows users to take or leave a book. They took that same skeleton of an idea and transformed it so it was applicable to their cause of refugee hunger.
Their activism is also based on a level of personal exposure to poverty.
“We’ve seen a lot of poverty in our lives,” Sania Hammad said to The Joplin Globe. “My dad is from Pakistan, so we see it there as well. It’s a Third World country. We are aware that one box in Joplin isn’t going to end hunger, but we feel like as humans, it’s our responsibility to do our part because we can.”
Fortunately, Sate Crate has generated enthusiasm amongst youth in the Southwest Missouri area which has come in the form of volunteering, spreading the word on social media and word of mouth.
Over the past year and a half, the sisters have been able to elicit donations in food amounting to $20,000 and have several volunteers of which ten are regular and several donors of which eight are regular. They started an Instagram page @satecrate to spread the message amongst their peers and let users know when they have restocked or are in need of donations. Their work is also documented on their website satecrate.org.
The Hammad sisters are now freshmen at college in the Northeast — Sania attends Barnard College and Alizeh attends Boston College. However, keen on continuing the ripple effect of generosity that Sate Crate created, they have chosen two co-chairs who will continue their legacy.
Throughout this project, Sania and Alizeh witnessed the struggles with food insecurity that many within their community have had and also came to realize the magnanimity of a true community, where people come together to help each other in times of need.
Shreya Prabhu is a student journalist from Greenwich, CT. She is passionate about bringing more youth voices into the journalism world. You can find her on Instagram @shreyaprab.
Edited by NaTyshca Pickett