Good Neighbors

Muslim Family Feeds 1,000 People A Day During Ramadan

They wanted to honor their cultural tradition of giving back during the holy month - and you can help keep their project going!

It's no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has been hard on everyone. But it has been especially difficult for small businesses who've had to close their doors and quickly adapt to keep everyone safe, while still trying to make a profit.

After a strong start at the beginning of the year, Hamza Deib's family was forced to close their Mediterranean restaurant in Brooklyn, NY in March when their business dropped 90 percent.

But, instead of hanging up their chef's hats, Deib, along with his seven brothers and sisters, started making meals and donating them to people in their community.

"It's either we're going to sit here and just be bitter about it and not do anything, or we do what's right and go out there and see who needs food," Deib told the New York Post. "We're not just going to sit back and do nothing."

Using leftover food and supplies from the two restaurants the family owns in New York City, the group started by donating around 100 meals per day to local first responders and hospital workers.

Then, once the need started growing, the family's service efforts expanded. Now, they're providing around 1,000 hot, free meals every day to food pantries, homeless shelters and other non-profit organizations in the city.

Deib and his family have been cooking and donating meals since the pandemic started. Taheni Mediterranean Grill/Facebook

Recently, Deib and his siblings partnered with the volunteer organization Muslims Giving Back to set up a make-shift soup kitchen to feed the homeless during the holy month of Ramadan. The group worked all day preparing meals and would get together in the evenings to pray before heading out to deliver food to those who are struggling in their community.

"We were doing it just on Saturday nights and we've seen people literally walk up to us and they were like 'this is my only meal for the week, I don't get to eat right now, everything is closed, no one is handing out change, no one is doing anything for anyone right now just because no one is in Manhattan,'" Deib recalled.

Deib said that delivering food to the homeless is "the most important work they've done." Taheni Mediterranean Grill/Facebook

While Ramadan is typically a time to spend praying and celebrating with family, this year's holiday looked a lot different because of the social distancing restrictions.

That's why Deib and his family decided to channel their energy into serving others, a lesson they learned from their parents when they were young.

"Growing up our mother was very focused on always wanting to give back and always wanting to feed people, so we literally just took this moment of what our mother did for Ramadan every single year," he said.

The group has raised over $14K in donations since they were featured in a YouTube video made by the Nowhere Men. Taheni Mediterranean Grill/Facebook

Until recently, the family had been paying out of their own pockets to keep their community fed. After a group or You-Tubers called the Nowhere Men made a video about the work they were doing, people started reaching out to ask how they could help. Deib set up a GoFundMe, and after just a few days, they raised over $14,000 to keep their efforts going.

"A lot of people have this perception that Islam, they spread violence or hate or so on and so forth," Deib said in the video. "We're here to spread love, man. We're going out every single night feeding a ton of people, whether they're Muslim or not."

We think it's awesome that Deib and his family have been able to help so many, even when their own business is struggling. If we could all pitch in and give what we can during the crisis, the world would certainly be a much better place.

How can you start something good?

You can help to keep Deib and his family's project going by making a donation on his GoFundMe page.

You can also help feed the homeless by sponsoring meals through the PaidMeals app and follow these instructions:

1. Download the PaidMeals app

2. Sign up as a "Contributor"

3. Search for "Taheni" restaurant (224 4th Ave. location)

4. Choose meal "Chicken over Rice (MGB)"

5. Contribute using secret phrase "MGB"

Let's #StartSomethingGood together!

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