by William P. Muhammad
Officials from the Nation of Islam Ministry of Agriculture, and Staple Goods Program coordinators from across the country, gathered at Muhammad Farms over the weekend of July 3-4 to celebrate a decade of service to their respective communities and to plan the next steps toward delivering storable food products to additional cities.
The Staple Goods Program is a solutions-based initiative launched in 2011 to provide healthy alternatives and inexpensive means by which families, community groups and houses of worship may address food insecurity and nutrition during times of crisis and uncertainty.
Sister Andrea F. Muhammad, of Muhammad Mosque No. 28 in St. Louis and chairperson of the committee overseeing the 10th anniversary of the program, acknowledged many helpers and volunteers. She said the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s guidance and the Nation of Islam’s required books of study give insight and foresight into an important model of self-help.
“I looked at ‘How to Eat to Live,’ and on page 57, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s title is: “Proper foods for the body and mind equals good health,” Sis. Andrea F. Muhammad said in remarks to those in both physical and virtual attendance during her presentation July 3.
“To everybody involved with the staple goods project, I thank you for your labor of love and getting proper food in the form of staples into the homes in our communities,” she said.
The Staple Goods 10th anniversary weekend was a great success and provided an opportunity to motivate team members to continue expanding the definition of self-help through agribusiness. Committee co-chair, Sis. Sherry 2X of the Peoria, Illinois Study Group, said live and pre-recorded messages from key individuals made for an inspiring and informative event.
“People from student ministers, who have assisted and helped the coordinators of the Staple Goods Project in getting products picked up and delivered, to the Believers and the other customers of the Staple Goods, all (gave) special presentations,” Sis. Sherry 2X said. “We had an extra-special presentation by Sis. Patricia Muhammad, in partnership with Sis. Vivian Muhammad, who is an agricultural coordinator, and (they) put together an audio/video presentation about how this all got started.”
Recounting a decade of business activity, the two-day event also focused attention on how the Staple Goods Program helps to mitigate the consequences of natural disasters, local and family emergencies or to provide chemical-free food for households desirous of healthy living.
During an atypical snow storm and deep freeze striking Texas in February 2021, program coordinators, rank-and-file Believers and other interested parties provided food and water assistance to people in need. Assistant Staple Goods Coordinator, Sis. Beatrice X (Marong), of Muhammad Mosque 36, in Charlotte, N.C., alleged some local government agencies were either unwilling or unable to assist the needy in a timely manner.
“The people were complaining because the government would not help them and they couldn’t get water,” Sis. Beatrice X explained to The Final Call. “So they contacted a brother who owns a water company, Robert McRae, who immediately called me to see what else we could do, so we were able to get Staple Goods navy bean soup and honey from Staple Goods and add it to the truckload of water that went out for relief for those people during that time.
Stating that 10 years of the Staple Goods Program and more than 20 years of activity from the Nation of Islam Ministry of Agriculture inspired her family to become farmers, Sis. Beatrice X said. Upon relocating to North Carolina, she and her family acquired the land necessary to start their own 10 acre farm producing lamb, fowl, vegetables and eggs.
“When we moved to Charlotte, we bought the property and the name of the farm is named after my grandson: ‘Amman How to Eat to Live Farm,’” she said. “The slogan of our farm is ‘An Experience on How to Eat to Live,’ so we give classes on how to incorporate everything we grow into a meal.”
Dr. Ridgley Mu’min Muhammad, student minister of agriculture and manager of the Nation of Islam’s Georgia-based farm, said that closing the gap between the theory of agriculture, economics and its practice requires hands-on experience and consistency. “What I’ve really learned that helps me is the 26 years of reality on Muhammad Farms trying to implement what I thought I could do and now, with the Staple Goods, we are understanding how a production and distribution system works,” he said.
“All of us in the Ministry of Agriculture have learned more than any textbook could have taught us, we’ve learned so much (that) now we’re ready to say this is what we must continue. The end game is to have a cooperatively owned, full scale grocery store in each city where there is a large Black population,” Dr. Muhammad said.
For more information on The Nation of Islam Ministry of Agriculture and The Staple Goods Program, visit www.noimoa.org.