A Walthamstow restaurant is raising money to provide free hot meals for Whipps Cross staff.

Mini Hiba on Wood Street makes around 100 meals per day, which go to Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone, Goodmayes Hospital in Ilford and more.

Together with the other two branches of the family-run business in central London, it has donated more than 2,000 meals since March 24.

Its Crowdfunder campaign has almost reached £2000 of their £9000 goal to help them continue to provide meals and potentially expand to other hospitals.

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The Hiba team made their first donation of 90 meals to Goodmayes Hospital this week

Manager Sayeda Abu-Amero said the business began providing hot meals because the only other option for workers after long shifts was sandwiches from supermarkets.

The business donates popular dishes such as wraps and chicken maqlooba for healthcare staff, cleaners and ambulance drivers.

Founder Osama Qashoo said: “When we explained that Maqlooba literally meant ‘Upside Down’ and that we were giving this to reflect the upside-down nature of life right now it did make them laugh.

“We will never forget their spirit and how they actually made us feel that we will come out of this stronger and better.”

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On the fundraiser’s webpage, Osama wrote that £2.50 would pay for another meal, though Sayeda said they would “continue to cook the food regardless” of how much was raised.

Osama added: “My team and I are really happy that we are doing something worthwhile during this surreal period.

“We take our reward by our contribution to our community and using our experiences of hardships from places such as Gaza to help us think forward and plan constructively.”

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Hiba employs a team of around 50 staff from all over the Arab world and also supports refugee charities in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, meaning “closing was not an option”.

They have quickly adapted to social distancing guidelines, ensuring only a few members of staff are in the kitchen at any one time.

Fnd out more about their campaign and donate here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/hiba-feeding-the-nhs-frontline-during-covid-19

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