Jordan charity gathers hotel leftovers to feed poor

Children wait for meals provided through the initiative, Family Kitchen, which packages excess foods from five-star hotels to underprivileged families during the holy month of Ramadan, in Al-Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp, near Amman, Jordan, June 11, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 13 June 2018
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Jordan charity gathers hotel leftovers to feed poor

  • A team of volunteers collect unwanted food from lavish Ramadan buffets
  • Bandar Sharif began his ‘Family Kitchen’ initiative 10 years ago

AMMAN: At the end of a lavish Ramadan buffet in the banquet hall of one of Amman’s five-star hotels, a young Jordanian charity worker rushes to gather up left-over food that his team of volunteers will package and redistribute to needy families.
Bandar Sharif began his ‘Family Kitchen’ initiative 10 years ago, angered by the amount of food thrown away by hotels during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, traditionally a period when consumption levels double across the region.
“What we do is eliminate this waste, we salvage the food and provide it to people who are in desperate need of it,” said Sharif, a 33-year-old teacher.
His team of volunteers now works all year round to collect unwanted food from large wedding parties, bakeries and restaurants.
This year the initiative has focused on the Palestinian refugee camp of Baqaa, one of the depressed areas in a country that has seen some of the biggest protests in years this month over steep price hikes, which are backed by the International Monetary Fund.
Critics say the price hikes are to blame for rising poverty in Jordan.
Family Kitchen’s initiative this year provides ‘iftar’ meals — eaten by Muslims after sunset during the holy month of Ramadan — to 500 families in the impoverished refugee camp on the outskirts of Amman.
A third of the camp’s 120,000 residents have an income below the national poverty line and around 17 percent are unemployed, the UN refugee body says.
“Our families are very poor, there is a lot of poverty in the community, so they need this support, they need these meals in order to ensure that they have food the next day,” said Kifah Khamis, who runs a charity in the sprawling camp.
One camp resident, Um Thair, a mother of four, said she could not have coped without the meals delivered to her family.
“I was able to save money. During Ramadan I didn’t have to buy a lot of food or shop a lot, we got most of our meals from the charity, we would come everyday and get our iftar meal,” she said.


The Six: Celebrate the Man Booker announcement with these regional reads

Books from the Middle East to read. (Shutterstock)
Updated 17 October 2018
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The Six: Celebrate the Man Booker announcement with these regional reads

DUBAI: With the 2018 Man Booker prize being announced on Tuesday, we take a look at six books from the Middle East that deserve to be read before the year is over.

‘Where the Bird Disappeared’
Taking inspiration from the stories of Prophet Zakariyya and his son Yahya, Palestinian poet and writer Ghassan Zaqtan’s book is a beautiful novel set in the village of Zakariyya, in modern-day Palestine.

‘Ascension to Death’
Syrian novelist Mamdouh Azzam tells the story of a young girl’s fate in a southern Syrian village.

‘Tippu Tip’
Stuart Laing writes a biography that transports the reader into an extraordinary world with an exotic cast of characters.

‘Elsewhere, Home’
Written by Leila Aboulela, the book is an enchanting collection of short stories that stretch from Khartoum to Scotland.

‘The Merchant of Syria’
Diana Darke interweaves the story of a cloth merchant with the development of Syria in an insightful look at the life of a businessman who expands his trade.

‘The Baghdad Clock’
Shahad Al-Rawi’s extraordinary novel turns life in embattled Iraq into a fantastical world of characters and memories by following two young girls who meet during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.