Dubai: Around 7,000 workers received free meals as part of a mass food donation drive by Dubai Municipality to mark World Food Day.
Officials and inspectors from the Food Safety Department of the municipality were joined by officials from the Building Department and Dubai Police as well as members of the public during the event held on Monday evening.
Around 20 officials from the Food Safety Department including the Eman Al Bastaki, director, and Noora Al Shamsi, head of the Applied Nutrition Section, led the initiative.
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Food packets brought to the UAE Food Bank site in Al Quoz were taken to various labour accommodations in Al Quoz Industrial Area for donation.
“It is a mission from the department on behalf of the municipality to mark the World Food Day. We wanted to ensure that our staff members are also in the loop and participate in such events. It is great to have the seniors and inspectors on site to donate food,” said municipality’s food safety specialist Bobby Krishna who coordinated the donation drive.
“It is amazing that we also had public volunteers including schoolchildren coming to help us out,” he told Gulf News.
Sreeparvathy Sunil, a grade 11 student of Dubai International Academy, who served food to hundreds of workers, said it was an overwhelming experience for her.
“It is a completely new experience for me. This is the first time I am visiting labour camps and seeing the workers so close. This is also my first time serving food to poor people,” said Sreeparvathy who was seen wearing a cap and apron with the logo of UAE Food Bank during the food donation.
“I have not seen the other side of life in Dubai like this. I am so happy that I could serve food to several workers. I am so thankful to the municipality and the Food Bank for giving me this opportunity.”
Tamir Ali, a food safety inspector, said for him also, it was the first experience of seeing thousands of workers at a labour accommodation. “I have taken part in a distribution of fruits to workers in an earlier donation through the Food Bank. But this is the first time I am serving them cooked food and that too to so many of them.”
He said the inspectors had a different experience with food donation from what they do everyday. “Apart from making sure the safety of the food, this time we got to donate it too. It is a nice feeling that we could do at least this and show that we are here for them.”
The meal included rice, bread and turkey salona. “Turkey was donated by One Foods’ Sadia and the whole cooking was done by Abela. These two companies, which supported the drive, really deserve appreciation,” said Krishna.
The surprise distribution of free meals put a smile on the faces of the workers too. Though many did not know the reason for the donation, they queued up to collect the food packets and savoured them later.
Inder Kumar, an electrician, said he did not know why the workers were getting a free meal. “I don’t know why they are doing it. But it is a good thing … We are happy to get this.”
Jaith Sundar, a generator operator, said giving food to the have-nots is a great thing that haves can do.
“Good that the people here are doing it, especially the municipality officials.”
Earlier on Wednesday morning, close to 1,000 workers were given free food during the inauguration of the second branch of the UAE Food Bank in Al Bada’a, taking the total number of workers who received free food on World Food Day to around 8,000.