For over a month the owner of a local Moroccan catering service has been teaming up with the East Boston YMCA and staff at the Y’s Ashley Street site to cook up some tasty Halal food for families and individuals living in Eastie.
Said El Mennaouy, owner of Tamaris Cuisine, and his staff have been at the Ashley Street Y two days a week using the site’s “Test Kitchen” to prepare fresh meals for residents.
El Mennaouy and East Boston Y Executive Director Joe Gaeta connected through the East Boston Mutual Aid Network.
“The East Boston Y connected with Said El Mennaouy to use our Teaching Kitchen at Ashley Street to produce meals to first feed Halal meals to Muslim families during the COVID crisis but has expanded to include all families in Eastie,” said Gaeta. “Said produces meals on Tuesday and Fridays for pick up by any family in need at 12 p.m.”
El Mennaouy, who lives in Eastie, said he first started cooking out of his home for a few Eastie families as part of the East Boston Mutual Aid Network. The network allows volunteers to sign up and cook meals, shop, or purchase items for other Eastie residents in need.
“Then I was wondering if they (the Network) found a kitchen for me in East Boston I’d be able to cook for the entire community,” said El Mennaouy, who still has a kitchen in Chelsea.
El Mennaouy decided to fund the entire operation through community donations set up on a GoFundMe page.
So far El Mennaouy has raised $1,397 of a $5,000 goal to keep the weekly kitchen going.
“We are in the process of trying to find other funding sources to help with the production of meals,” said Gaeta.
El Mennaouy said the first week he started he produced just 60 plates of food but that number has risen to more than 200 plates of food each day he’s there cooking.
“I thought I have to do something to help my community,” said El Mennaouy. “This community gave me a lot and I said it was time to give back to the community. “Together, we can ensure no child goes without dinner. We can ensure every family has food on the table. We can ensure no one who lost their job to this pandemic goes hungry.”
Gaeta said at the Eastie Y he and his staff want to ensure that they are maximizing resources during this unprecedented crisis.
“When the opportunity arose for us to partner with Said to produce Halal meals for families in need it was a no brainer,” he said. “Through the East Boston Mutual Aid Network and the City of Boston we are doing our best to make sure we feed as many people in need as possible. This is truly a whole community partnership to make sure we get through this crisis. We are stronger together and this community will make it through.”