A Pakistani activist and businessman has initiated a project to provide over 500 hot meals to destitute families and refugees in London for free every day.
Ehsan Shahid’s Open Kitchen project in Hounslow, West London, began three years ago with the help of a charity and is now a successful venture in the vicinity.
The Open Kitchen had served free food to the vulnerable community and low-income households twice a day every day before the pandemic hit in March 2020 and brought everything to a standstill. Shahid decided to end the sit-in service and turned the project into a collection service, providing the needy with two hot meals, water, and snacks on a daily basis.
The volunteers and staff at the Open Kitchen work tirelessly to ensure that it does not close even for a single day.
“The demand has increased so much that homeless and needy families from across West London are coming to us for two meals a day, at lunch and dinner time. We serve food to those in need with respect and dignity, and we ensure that the food we serve is of top quality. The local council has given us 5-star ratings for the food we prepare and serve,” Shahid revealed.
There are almost 650 volunteers associated with the restaurant.
“Whilst the paid staff prepares food and maintains the kitchen and donations, our volunteers support with food distribution, making our beneficiaries feel welcome, support with deliveries, and raising awareness,” he explained.
“We are proud of the range of volunteers we have which includes doctors, engineers, bankers, civil servants, mothers, students, and veterans, and sometimes our very own beneficiaries. Recently, one of our volunteers, who beat cancer, was honored with an award (Hounslow Heroes, by London Borough of Hounslow) for his contribution. All of them are driven by the community spirit of giving to others and serving for humanity to seek spiritual satisfaction,” Shahid added.