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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - Minneapolis restaurant owner Abdirahman Kahin is keeping his kitchen open to help feed people in need.
"We closed most of our restaurants, and the only business we are doing is to-go, and that is not even one-fifth or one-sixth of our business," says Kahin, the owner of Afro Deli. "So therefore, we are helping the community because God, Allah, gave us what we have. So, we have to always try to help the community."
Kahin and his volunteers are helping older members of the Somali community, and their neighbors, along with other elderly and disabled Minnesotans who are stuck at home due to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
"I used to exercise by walking outside around my neighborhood," says Abdi Mohamed Darwish, who received one of the free meals. "Now, due to the stay-at-home order, I cannot go outside. I feel restricted, and it has affected me greatly. I feel like I am in jail in my home."
Afro Deli's manager Isis Sisco says the free meals are a way to have personal connection in a time of social distancing.
"We know that food comforts everybody, so we are taking the timeout to make individual meals for each one of them just to give them some comfort," Isis Sisco says.
Afro Deli volunteers delivered a free lunch to Ramola Madsan.
"I am so grateful to have somebody bring me something nice to eat," she says. "Yesterday, after people came and offered this, I closed my door and I went inside and cried because it is such a kind, sweet thing to do."
Kahin says he knows the free meals are not enough to help everyone in need, but he hopes it helps start a broader private-sector response.
"We don't know what is going to happen tomorrow so this community needs our help," Kahin says. "And as a small business owner, we are a community business, and we always make sure to respond when the community needs us."