Egyptian restaurants deliver free meals to low-income people, medics amid COVID-19 crisis

Mahmoud Fouly

CAIRO (XINHUA) – “We are with you until the crisis is over,” read a large sign hanging above the front door of a restaurant in Heliopolis district of the capital Cairo, offering a free takeaway lunch to the people whose incomes have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The charitable idea came to Mahmoud al-Masry, the restaurant’s owner, when he realised how massive the crisis was after the government temporarily suspended schools and universities, halted flights, closed entertainment places and shut down crowded marketplaces over the past few weeks.

“I know that the incomes of many people have been affected. I feel responsible to stand by my country and support my fellow citizens during the crisis as much as I can,” said Masry.

“We put the sign to encourage shy people in need to come in and pick up their free lunch,” Masry said, adding that “people were reluctant in the beginning but now we provide free lunch for about 50 families on a daily basis”.

The restaurant’s kitchen looked like a beehive with busy chefs and workers preparing takeaway lunch bags.

Sameh Mostafa, one of the staff and an assistant manager, expressed happiness to assist people with low incomes during the crisis, noting that they disinfect the restaurant daily, wear gloves and maintain personal hygiene to ensure the cleanliness of the food.

“The meal for one person consists of rice, a piece of grilled chicken, bread, salad and soup. The family meal consists of a whole chicken and more rice and bread, in addition to tissues and plastic spoons and forks,” said the 30-year-old man.

Staff members of a restaurant prepare free meals for low-income people during COVID-19 outbreak in Cairo, Egypt. PHOTO: XINHUA