The British government has honoured a Pakistani who serves free meals to low-income families residing in Hounslow area of London.
British-Pakistani Ehsan Shahid Choudhry, the co-founder of Muslim Hands — The Open Kitchen, will be awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) under the Order of the British Empire (OBE). His name has been included in the King’s Birthday Honours List 2023.
The award was established by King George V in 1917 to honour those who had served in a non-combative role and made contributions to arts, sciences, charitable work and public service. The OBE also includes the British Empire Medal presented to those who have contributed to service in their community.
The charity Muslim Hands was started in Nottingham in 1993 when, in the wake of the Bosnia war, Muslims in the UK began to collect donations and charity for the people of Bosnia.
In 2018, Choudhry launched The Open Kitchen, a service through which low-income families can get free lunch throughout the year.
The charity focuses operates in London and Nottingham, home to some of the most deprived communities in the country, according to its website.
Through the food kitchen, the charity is able to serve 500 meals a day to needy families.
With a team of almost 30 volunteers, The Open Kitchen runs across the week in both cities.
Food poverty has become a growing problem in the UK with many now struggling to put food on the table, said a report presented in the UK parliament last week.
It stated that in 2021/22, 4.7 million people, or 7 percent of the UK population were in food poverty, including 12 percent children.
The situation has been aggravated due to rising food prices which have gone up by 19 percent between April 2022 and 2023, according to the report.
An earlier survey by the Food Foundation think tank reported the number of UK children in food poverty has nearly doubled in the last year to almost four million.
The survey reported that one in five households was skipping meals, going hungry or not eating for a whole day in January, up from 12 percent at the same time in 2022.