Dubai food tour company Frying Pan Adventures has helped give more than 2,000 meals to families affected by the coronavirus crisis thanks to its Gift-A-Meal initiative.
With many families out of work and losing their income during the pandemic, the plan is a lifeline for many in the community who would otherwise struggle to put food on their plates.
It has also helped to keep struggling local restaurants afloat, with all the meals being purchased from the outlets and prepared by their teams. Frying Pan Adventures founder Arva Ahmed told Caterer Middle East it was seeing customers wishing to support their local F&B outlets but being unable to do so because of the lockdown that inspired the initiative.
She said: “It made sense to connect those who were able to give with restaurants that needed the cash flow with the people who needed the food. A reinforcing community cycle, if you will, and we wanted to use our online platform to connect the dots. The scale of what we're doing feels very small in comparison to the issues that the F&B industry and people on the ground are facing--but we had to start somewhere, no matter how small.”
While Ahmed may humbly suggest what the Frying Pan Adventures team is doing is small, the impact it is having on each of the recipients is large. Ahmed explains that the people who receive the meals are those who have lost their income, either temporarily or permanently, with many living in shared accommodation and responsible for the upkeep of their families back home, so every one of these meals can be a lifeline.
“Many of them continuously thank us for easing this one important aspect of their daily life - it's one less thing to worry about and spend on, at a time when resources are so badly stretched,” explained Ahmed. “But even more than the resources saved, we sense that the program has had a very positive emotional aspect. Imagine knowing that there's a community out there that cares, that will step in until you find your bearings by sending you a meal. And not just any meal, but a really good one that's cooked and presented with pride. Having a good meal on the table can lift spirits in almost any situation--but more so now when people need that boost during dark times.”
It’s that community which holds the initiative together, purchasing meals via the Gift-A-Meal website which are then gifted to those in need, and Ahmed says the response has been spectacular.
“People have not just gifted once, but twice, sometimes more. We've had people share with their circles and the ripple effect is immensely powerful in spreading the word. We can't believe that we've gifted over 2,700 meals over the last 60 days thanks to the community - this has ensured that a cohort of about 50 residents in the city who've lost their income have been getting dinners every day, weekends included, without fail.”
But with no end to the current situation in sight, more help is needed to continue the program, with the currently gifted meals set to run out soon.
For those wishing to help, Ahmed says the process is very simple. “You just visit our website at fryingpanadventures.com and under the Gift-A-Meal program, you can select any number of meals that you'd like to gift based on what you're willing and able to contribute. Our goal was to support our cohort of residents through till the end of August, but as it stands now, we may run out of meals by July 12.”
You can read more about the good work being done by the F&B community in the UAE to support those in need in the July issue of Caterer Middle East, which is available to few for free here.