6 ways to donate meals to frontline workers and vulnerable communities in the UAE during Ramadan

Help others this Ramadan as we battle the coronavirus pandemic in solidarity


INKED has reopened its kitchen to cook meals for vulnerable communities and front-line healthcare workers in the city. Here, the five-person team who have been provided almost 300 meals a day. 

Kenza and Patrick Jarjour, the husband-and-wife team behind dining and event space Inked, in Alserkal Avenue, wanted to “give back to the community of Dubai” after they closed their two kitchens amid the coronavirus crisis.

(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

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Charity has always been a huge part of the spirit of Ramadan, and this year it's more important than ever.

As we battle the coronavirus pandemic together, frontline workers and the disadvantaged are vulnerable. Thankfully, there are a few great initiatives that allow us all to help out among UAE communities.

Here are six worth looking into.

1. 10 Million Meals

What is it? The 10 Million Meals campaign is easily the UAE's biggest community drive and was launched by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives in collaboration with Social Solidarity Fund Against Covid-19. It aims to provide food assistance to less fortunate families and individuals, by allowing everyone to financially contribute towards providing meals, or donating food items and parcels, directly to those in need across the UAE.

How can you donate? A huge number of companies and restaurants across the UAE have donated meals – more than 15,000 donors pledged 450,000 meals in two days – but there are a number of ways we can all still get involved.

Operation Falafel donated 10,000 meals as part of the 10 Million Meals campaign. Courtesy Operation Falafel
Operation Falafel donated 10,000 meals as part of the 10 Million Meals campaign. Courtesy Operation Falafel

You can buy a specific number of meals through the website, www.10millionmeals.ae, or text the word "Meal" to a range of UAE numbers (for example, text 1034 to donate one meal at a cost of Dh8, or 1038 to donate 50 meals at Dh400). This only works for Etisalat and Du customers. Alternatively, you could make a bank transfer (account details are on the site) or call the toll-free number 8004006 to donate food supplies, parcels or other services directly.

2. Immune boost for the Frontliners by Nolu's

What is it? Marjon Andesha, founder of the popular Abu Dhabi restaurant chain Nolu's, has started a charity drive specifically for frontline workers. Her team has compiled boxes of meals that use ingredients containing vitamins and minerals specifically designed to boost immunity. The box costs Dh52.50 and contains a salad, one vegan or vegetarian dish, healthy snacks, infused water and a juice or "elixir". There's also a box of 50 juices of 60 millilitres – containing orange, ginger, turmeric and honey – that costs Dh420.

"Living in the region for over 16 years and having five local restaurants in Abu Dhabi with many more pending to open, I felt obligated to contribute some way to overcome this pandemic and economic downturn," reads a statement from Andesha on the website. "I hope to make a change and assist the hard-working front-liners who have dedicated their time to help cure the people in need. At the same time, if this becomes a nationwide initiative, the economic impact it could have on restaurants would be a blessing."

How can you donate? They aren't accepting online orders, but you can contribute by filling out your information on a web form. One of the restaurant's team members will get back to you as soon as possible. 

3. Make My Meal

What is it? The UAE's largest online tiffin service has teamed up with Emirates Red Crescent, the Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department, the Government of Dubai and the UAE Food Bank to create the Gift A Meal initiative. You can help families of construction workers, cab drivers, healthcare professionals, anyone providing essential services and others who don't have employment opportunities by donating healthy meals to them.

How can you donate? It's really simple. You can do it by filling out a form on the website and it costs Dh49 for one box of seven meals. You can choose to make this vegetarian or non-vegetarian.

4. Buy meals with Inked

What is it? Dubai restaurant Inked, which is based in Alserkal Avenue, has been using its kitchen to cook meals for vulnerable communities and front-line healthcare workers in the city.

Kenza and Patrick Jarjour, the husband-and-wife team behind the dining and event space wanted to "give back to the community of Dubai" after they closed their two kitchens amid the coronavirus crisis.

For a couple of weeks, they have been cooking about 100 meals a day, taking donations from their suppliers who were left with a food surplus because of the mass closure of restaurants. They now hope to up this to 300 meals a day, helped by Alserkal Avenue's Pay it Forward initiative.

Look through the photo gallery below to see the team busy in the kitchen:

It has been working with the UAE Food Bank to determine where these meals go. Some go to vulnerable communities facing food shortages, such as those in Al Ras and Al Quoz. Others, administered by the Dubai Health Authority, go to front-line workers and patients.

How can you donate? The restaurant is seeking donations of Dh25 per meal to continue for as long as possible. These can be bought online at www.inked.ae. Individuals and organisations looking to support in larger numbers can email info@inked.ae or call 050 845 1359.

5. One Donation Feeds Two with nefsy

What is it? This food app lets people who use its service give back, as well as take advantage of discounts and deals across hundreds of restaurants in Dubai. Every time you buy a meal with nefsy, a meal will be donated to someone less fortunate on your behalf. The food you buy is only available for dine-in or to takeaway, unless the restaurant offers its own delivery service.

The initiative is supported by Emirates Red Crescent, the Government of Dubai, the Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department and Fund for UAE the Homeland of Humanity.

How can you donate? At the moment, every time you buy one meal with nefsy, another meal will be donated to someone in need on your behalf in the UAE, as well as a second free meal to someone in another country.

You gain ranks based on the number of meals you've purchased, and the app will tell you how many lives impacted that equates to. It provides you with a certificate with those details each month.

If you own a restaurant, you can also sign up to the initiative.

For more information, click here.

6. Companies For Good

What is it? This one is for businesses looking for a way to donate and support Dubai's most vulnerable communities, but also to engage its workforce in the process. Teams can sign up for the app and then engage in an exercise activity together in order to reach a common goal, which will then activate a charitable contribution.

How can you donate? You need to track your goal, which you can choose yourself, and then once you reach it, your contribution will be made. So, you might decide everyone will do 50,000 minutes of exercise together in one month in order to have meals or groceries donated to Dubai labourers. All you have to do is download the Veerto app and have everyone track their minutes.

It's not just food, as you can also contribute other essentials or Covid Relief Packs. It's up to you.

To get access to the app, there's a cost of Dh20 per employee every month. The contribution towards the social initiative is paid only once (not monthly) and will be based on your allocated budget.

For more information, click here.