Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Restaurant owners pitch in to fight pandemic hunger

Some cannot afford to give as much as others, but every little bit helps.

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As the country marks its second year of navigating the Covid-19 crisis, restaurant operators are doing what they can to alleviate the hardships of the B40 and urban poor who have been reeling under the financial impact of the pandemic.

While they might not be able to do much in terms of giving monetary assistance, what they can do is to provide food, and to do so for free.

Mohd Izham Fahmi Yaakob who runs Restoran Makan Place in Puncak Alam, Selangor, started giving out meals about a week ago.

“We prepare 15 to 20 packets of food each day, depending on the situation,” he told MalaysiaNow. “Sometimes we finish giving it out, sometimes we don’t.”

Each packet consists of mixed rice and a drink. It may not seem like much, but Izham, whose business is also struggling to survive the pandemic, is determined to do what he can to help those in need.

“If they are desperate, sometimes they resort to stealing,” he said. “So I don’t mind how many packets they take because right now, we are all in difficulty together.”

Izham has never asked those who accept the food about themselves, but he estimates that many of them are from the hardcore poor.

Over at Kedai Makan Abang Tukang Masak, Nur Fatin Abd Halim and her team prepare anywhere from 200 to 1,000 food packs a day for those in the Damansara Damai area.

“No matter how much food we prepare, it is always finished by the end of the day,” she said.

“We don’t set any criteria for this – anyone can take the food as long as they are hungry or in need.”

Sometimes, they also give food to the security guards in the area who work late into the night.

Many who come for the food are individuals with families to feed, or foreigners.

There is also a space at the restaurant for basic necessities to be donated to more than 2,000 people in the area.

“It’s not much but we try to help. Even if we can save one or two families, it is enough.”

Nur Fatin said 80% of the cost is covered by the restaurant’s earnings while the remaining 20% is paid for through public donations.

Not far off, at the Nasi Briyani Batu Pahat Damansara Damai stall, Mohammad Na’imullah Nazli prepares 15 packets of rice each day for anyone in need.

“We began doing this in early June, after we read about the plight of many on social media – people who did not have enough to eat, people who had no money, and more recently those who are forced to fly white flags at their homes.

“Many have also despaired to the point of committing suicide,” he said.

“It’s not much but we try to help. Even if we can save one or two families, it is enough.”

Na’imullah is also working with former Selangor goaltender Jamsari Sabian, who supplies packets of daily necessities for distribution.

For families in the area who have no means of transportation, Na’imullah delivers the food to them himself.

His main priorities are single mothers and those who are unemployed, with young children.

“We have to show some discretion because we don’t have a lot of funds,” he said. “We want this aid to reach those who are really in need of it.

“We don’t want them to feel stressed to the point of doing anything unfortunate.”

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