This restaurant’s secret ingredient is pure kindness. Owners of Marché Ferdous, an eatery located in Montreal, decided that they needed to make a positive difference in their neighborhood after seeing a number of homeless people in the area. Instead of offering these folks money, the owners of the restaurant decided to offer a free meal. “We do not ask any questions, we do not judge people,” said the restaurant’s co-owner, Yahya Hashemi. “They want to eat, [we] give them the food. That’s it, that’s all.”
The restaurant’s owners decided to offer food to those in need last fall, shortly after that they posted a sign on the door to inform passersby. However, the generosity of the restaurant went largely unnoticed until recently.
The new notoriety of the restaurant and its generosity can be attributed to Sean Jalbert, one Montreal resident who works near Marché Ferdous. He noticed the sign and thought that the offer must be too good to be true. He decided to go into the restaurant and pretend that he did not have the money to pay for anything on the menu. “She didn’t ask anything, but said we welcome you and pick whatever you like, including anything I wanted to drink,” Jalbert wrote in a post on Facebook. Out of appreciation for the restaurant’s kindness, Jalbert did pay for his food and he thanked the staff for their warm-heartedness. In response to Jalbert’s thanks, the staffer mentioned that a part of the goal of the program is “to encourage [people] helping each other through tough times.” His Facebook post about this charitable restaurant went viral with over 3,000 likes and 5,000 shares.
Further explaining the program, Hashemi says that the program is his way of giving back to the country that welcomed him and allowed him to prosper, being that he immigrated to Canada from Iran about 30 years ago. He and his co-owner Ala Amiry agree that the act of giving is a part of the culture in which they grew up and continuing to the act of giving through their free-food program is a way of preserving the tradition.
Moreover, the owners of the restaurant were able to implement this program without reducing the eatery’s profits. In fact, the program seems to help reduce food waste. Abdelkader Bejaoui, a chef at Marché Ferdous, says, “If you still have leftover food [at the end of the night], you end up throwing it out. So, why not give it to those in need? It’s no big deal.” It seems that the food that would have gone to waste is going to those who need it most.
On a similar note, the carbon dioxide produced by the trucks that carry the food waste to the landfill, the methane produced by the food waste, and the cost of the lost natural resources allow food waste to be an enormous environmental and economic issue. By making the decision to give back to their community, Marché Ferdous has inadvertently tackled the problem of food waste, benefiting the environment beyond their immediate community.
Who knew that unforeseen consequences could be such a good thing?
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