DUBAI: On the night of the Beirut port blasts, which killed 154 civilians and injured thousands on August 4, Lebanese food shop owner Nabil Khoury and his brother decided to launch one of the very first initiatives for distributing packaged meals to those impacted by the catastrophe. Within a week, more than 3,000 meals have been cooked in the kitchen of Khoury’s vegetarian delicatessen, “Dry & Raw.”
In an Instagram post, the company shared: “We are all one in this. This is the least we can do for you, for us and for our country.”
With the help of staff and numerous young volunteers, along with Khoury’s loyal clients (who generously donated meat and poultry), a variety of hot meals incorporating carbohydrates and proteins, sandwiches and salads have been distributed to many, including selfless medical doctors, volunteers and families in need.
Another great day at Dry and Raw full of love, solidarity, compassion, and fraternity, only was possible because the multilayered support of our friends in Lebanon and outside. As of Sunday we managed to triple our daily production to reach 900 meals yesterday and 933 today. They all went to devastated people, a segment that is unfortunately growing everyday. We want thank again the beautiful Cortas family, Joanna Silfany, Maya Hobeish, Jackie, Ghiwa, and our Czech friends Alena and Petr Likesovi. #DryandRaw
“With the donations, I cannot tell you how much people love to help each other — it’s overwhelming,” Khoury, 45, told Arab News.
He collaborated with the Lebanese Red Cross, the Lebanese Food Bank and local NGO Hot Pot Meal to deliver food to different parts of Beirut, such as Gemmayze, Mar Mikhael and Karantina, which were all severely damaged by the explosions.
“No picture or video could describe the damage that has occurred,” he explained, adding how the country was already suffering from an economic meltdown and the coronavirus pandemic. “In the early hours, people were busy helping each other, takingothers to hospitals, and burying the dead. But now, they are very angry at the whole system. Our government has resigned, but this is not the solution — the whole corrupt system has to step down. This explosion broke the last bone in our back.”
Having previously worked for NGOs, Khoury opened “Dry & Raw” in February 2020; a few months after the October uprising that witnessed nationwide anti-government protests.
Encouraging local food production, Khoury claims the conceptual shop is the “first of its kind” in Lebanon, offering organic, vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian foods, which have been produced in-house.
In addition, select produce is grown at the shop’s own farm.
Khoury recalled: “People criticized the fact that we opened the shop in the midst of an economic crisis, but we said: ‘This is the future and we should really start local production now’.”