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Muslim Restaurant Ends Ramadan With Free Meals Amid Pandemic

At a time when many are experiencing a shortage of food, the parking lot of Around the Clock Chicken and Fish in Capitol Heights, Maryland, was filled Thursday evening with Muslim and community leaders who readily shared a free meal.

Imam Yahya Muhammad, who opened the restaurant across from one of the main U.S. Postal Service distribution facilities in the area, said the drive-up meal distribution amid the coronavirus pandemic was his way to close out the Islam month of Ramadan, the annual observance of fasting, prayer, reflection and community.

“We wanted today to give back to the community and to let people know that we in the Black community are one,” said Muhammad as he and his wife Olonda prepared chicken, fish, macaroni and cheese, and other side dishes that included peach cobbler.

Iman Yahya Muhammad and wife Olonda, owners of Around the Clock Chicken and Fish in Capitol Heights, Maryland (Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Informer)
Iman Yahya Muhammad and wife Olonda, owners of Around the Clock Chicken and Fish in Capitol Heights, Maryland (Hamil R. Harris/The Washington Informer)

“My wife and I took time out to let the community know that we care about them,” Muhammad said.

Meanwhile, another drive-thru distribution event Thursday at the Central Baptist Church of Camp Springs was overwhelmed by those looking to receive meals, with vehicles still arriving long after the food ran out.

Traffic stalled along the Capital Beltway near the Branch Avenue exit, with vehicles en route to the Central Avenue church sat in the backup for nearly an hour.

But many motorists were visibly frustrated once they arrived at the church and spotted two men in orange jackets waving people off.

“The food distribution has been gone since 1 p.m.,” one man said.

Prince George’s County Council member Calvin Hawkins said he wanted to come to the event because “as a county, we are committed to people and want to let them know that help is on the way.”

“We’re all in this together,” Hawkins said.

Imam Yusef Salem, former leader of Masjid Muhammed mosque in D.C., said, “We are all human. No matter what ethnic group you are, the coronavirus will affect anybody.”

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Hamil R. Harris

Hamil Harris is an award-winning journalist who worked at the Washington Post from 1992 to 2016. During his tenure he wrote hundreds of stories about the people, government and faith communities in the Greater Washington Area. Hamil has chronicled the Million Man March, the Clinton White House, the September 11 attack, the sniper attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the campaign of President Barack Obama and many other people and events. Hamil is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of the Washington Post where he writes a range of stories, shoots photos and produces videos for the print and online editions of the Post. In addition, he is often called upon to report on crime, natural disasters and other breaking issues. In 2006 Harris was part of a team of reporters that published the series “Being a Black Man.” He was also the reporter on the video project that accompanied the series that won two Emmy Awards, the Casey Medal and the Peabody Award. Hamil has lectured at Georgetown University, George Washington University, Howard University, the American University, the University of Maryland and the University of the District of Columbia. He also lectures several times a year to interns during their semester in the District as part of their matriculation at the Consortium of Christian Colleges and Universities.

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