Iman Yahya Muhammad and wife Olonda, owners of Around the Clock Chicken and Fish in Capitol Heights, Maryland, provide free meals during the coronavirus pandemic on May 21. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)
Iman Yahya Muhammad and wife Olonda, owners of Around the Clock Chicken and Fish in Capitol Heights, Maryland, provide free meals during the coronavirus pandemic on May 21. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

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)

“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.”

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...

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