It’s been four years since Jamila’s Kitchen launched it’s “No money, No worries” program, and this year the impact of COVID-19 has the Afghan-Indian eatery offering a free meal to frontline workers.
The family-owned restaurant in Coquitlam started the program in 2017 to help those in the community who may be facing hardships to a free meal. When COVID-19 impacted the province, the restaurant owners expanded the program to ensure first responders and frontline workers in the community are able to get a free meal until supplies last and their doors are open.
“We are here to serve those in need. We saw our healthcare workers working very hard, fighting and putting themselves at risk, especially [in] our community here. We wanted to remind first responders that we are here to show our support and appreciation to feed them for free,” owner Malik Malikzada told Daily Hive.
During the first two weeks of the pandemic, Malikzada said things were quite intense as they received a positive response from healthcare and frontline workers and distributed more than 200 free meals.
“It doesn’t matter if you work in the healthcare sector or [you’re] delivering food or something. We’ve even gotten truck drivers. It has been an amazing time just to help people. It doesn’t matter if they have money or not; it’s the notion of community building that encourages us,” said Malikzada.
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One of their most recent donations was to the Royal Columbia Hospital Foundation (RCH).
“Food deliveries like the one from Jamila’s Kitchen were a real high point for staff. They made us feel like the community was there doing what they could to help us fight COVID-19. They took away some of the external stressors of planning meals for work, and it meant that staff had one less thing to think about during a very challenging time,” Jason Zurba, clinical supervisor of respiratory therapy at RCH, told Daily Hive via email.
Malikzada said a huge motivation for wanting to give back, comes from his experience when he and his wife were seeking refuge.
“We left our country, Afghanistan, and sought refuge in Pakistan. As a refugee, we received … help from strangers that helped us to basically survive and succeed. I look at the generosity of those people. We felt and understood that we stood up on their shoulders; we need to build an opportunity for people to stand on our shoulders.”