Non-profit organization partners with Phoenix-area restaurants to feed Afghan refugees | Arizona News

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Okra, spinach, and rice chutney: This is what’s included in hundreds of meals that go way beyond the basic food groups.

“At that time, if someone came up to me and said, ‘Hey, here’s a hot Afghan meal,’ I would steal, you know?” said Habib Hassan, of Khyber Halal restaurant and caterer.

On Wednesday, his restaurant was full of polystyrene containers that will soon become a source of comfort for Afghan refugees. Hassan came to the United States from Afghanistan as a refugee 36 years ago, and together with his wife, Fahmia, they now run the restaurant.

Now the family works with the association “World Central Cuisine“, founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, to feed Afghan refugees recently resettled in Arizona. Each day, they prepare and pack more than 500 hot meals. Once packed in boxes, they transport the food to the hotels where refugees stay across the valley, from Scottsdale to Chandler.

64 Afghan refugees will participate in ASU next semester. Through partnerships and private donors, refugees will be housed in hotels near campus and attend classes at the Tempe site.

Fahima’s brother and one of the couple’s sons help load the vans, and almost everything they serve is a family recipe. Fahima is the head chef and the days are long, starting around 6.30am. Hassan says World Central Kitchen is the driving force behind the operation, and without them it would be impossible.

“We’ve done a lot of this work across the country since August,” said Tim Kilcoyne, director of special relief operations. “Since the refugees landed at Dulles Airport in the United States, we were able to provide them with meals as soon as they got off the plane.”

The organization began this work in Phoenix in early January. He approached the Hassan and two other restaurants in the valley familiar with the cuisine. Donations pay for restaurants to prepare food and operate.

Local organizations step in to help Afghan refugees as they arrive in Arizona

“It’s also giving back to the community,” Kilcoyne said. “The community that everyone resettles to, but it also provides that familiar nourishment.”

Hassan came to Arizona when he was 17 and since then has made his home. “They’re super, super happy to be here,” he said of the refugees they serve. “But they’re still shocked. They had a life there. And just one day they had to pack everything up and leave.”

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