Dubai firm taps diners in fight against global hunger

The Eat & Feed campaign aims to raise money for the UN food agency’s zero hunger initiative

A Dubai-based conglomerate is reaching out to diners as part of a corporate social responsibility campaign designed to help fight hunger worldwide.

The Al Aroud Group teamed up with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) to launch the Eat & Feed campaign last year, to raise money for the UN agency’s zero hunger initiative. The scheme encourages diners to donate to WFP by automatically adding between AED1 and AED2 ($0.27-$0.54) to customers’ bills. Diners can choose to opt-out of the scheme.

Currently, 30 restaurants belonging to 20 different brand outlets in Dubai and the northern emirates are signed up to the scheme. Three of the brands – La Postreria, Bennigan’s and Tike – are part of the Al Aroud Group. The company hopes to take the campaign global, once it reaches a target of 100 participating restaurants in the UAE.

“We want to engage the community,” said the campaign’s manager, Muhammad Shiha. “So they know we have hunger in the world and that whatever you do, however small, it counts.”

“It is saddening to see a solvable problem like hunger, attacking huge numbers of people and depriving them from the nutrition they need,” said Saleh Al Aroud, the group’s founder. “Our efforts can make a difference.”

WFP’s zero hunger challenge aims to eliminate hunger and poor nutrition worldwide, including by increasing access to adequate food year-round and eradicating stunting in children under 2-years-old. Some 842 million people, or one in every nine, go hungry according to the agency.

Eat & Feed Campaign is in talks with other UAE-based conglomerates to bring their outlets into the fold. “As the famous quote goes, ‘One hand cannot clap alone’,” said Al Aroud. “Our large goals require a lot of focused attention and organised action, this can be better achieved when all segments of society come together.”

Eat & Feed’s structure makes it easier for restaurants headquartered in Dubai to give, without having to undergo onerous licencing procedures. Al Aroud Group takes care of the legal structure and licence – which took two years to acquire – required for charity fundraising in the UAE, as well as investing in the marketing materials, according to Shiha.

The campaign raised some AED35,000 ($9,500) for WFP in October through a tie-up with Dubai Chamber of Commerce. The Rice Bowl Challenge urged staff from 65 Dubai-based companies to donate the cost of their lunch to the campaign, matched by their employer. Almost 1,700 employees took part.

The Al Aroud group is a long-term supporter of the UN food agency. Its aviation arm provides free cargo shipments for WFP goods from Dubai’s logistics hub, International Humanitarian City.

Photo credit: WFP