Washington restaurateur promotes “Falafel Philanthropy”

World Today

A Washington D.C. Falafel Shop is helping refugees around the world by donating money to feed refugees, while providing his customers with a taste of Palestinian cuisine.

CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.

Palestinian American Ahmad Ashkar came to the U.S. with his family in the 1980s. He grew up in one of the few Middle Eastern families in his neighborhood.

“We grew up in a small town outside Kansas City. We were the only Arab family in town. One of our identifiers as young kids growing up in Middle America was our cultural heritage and our food,” said Ashkar.

Craving the food of his youth and looking for an opportunity to help refugees and migrants of all kinds– he opened Falafel Inc. in Washington, D.C. It’s a simple restaurant that specializes in inexpensive Middle Eastern food.

“I launched Falafel Inc. which has two purposes: to re-invent the Palestinian cuisine of street food. Of falafel and hummus, and also feed and empower refugees from around the world,” said Ashkar.

Ashkar has committed to help refugees through his restaurant – a mission that has grown more urgent to him as the Trump Administration has taken steps to block refugees and other immigrants from entering the U.S.

“Our Falafel Inc. stores will employ and empower refugees in two ways: one is by giving them job opportunities and the other is by feeding them -literally providing a meal for a refugee. For every $10 which is spent in the store through our partnership with the World Food Program, we’re deploying a day’s worth of food for those refugees,” said Ashkar.

He said since opening in the spring of 2017, he has donated more than $50,000.

The Falafel Inc. story spread online and by word of mouth, and the restaurant took off. Most days there is line when the doors open for lunch.

Ashkar said he will open seven more stores soon and hopes to one day have more than 100 shops — spreading comfort food while helping refugees around the world.