United Sikhs Feed the Hungry in California
- Feed the Hungry event feeds hundreds of homeless in San Francisco, celebrating Sikh principles of 'Seva' and 'Langar'
- Nearly 800 people were served by 40 UNITED SIKHS volunteers at Glide Memorial Methodist Church
- California is celebrating the officially legislated Sikh Awareness month over November which culminated in the mass event
San Fransisco, California: Sikh volunteers fed hundreds of hungry and homeless people in California just before Thanksgiving as part of the UNITED SIKHS Aid project "Feed the Hungry."
California is celebrating the officially legislated Sikh Awareness month over November which culminated in the mass Feed the Hungry event at the Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco. The event catered to hundreds of homeless in San Francisco, celebrating Sikh principles of 'Seva' (selfless service) and 'Langar' (community kitchen).
The theme of the event is tied into the Sikh principle of Langar. Langar symbolizes the recognition of the human race as one, since anyone irrespective of caste, creed, race, or religion can partake in Langar. This is why in Sikh Gurdwaras (Sikh Houses of Worship), all who partake in Langar sit on the floor denoting that no one is above or beneath anyone else. All the food is prepared by dedicated volunteers and there is no cost to those who partake.
At Langar, only vegetarian food is served to ensure that all people, regardless of their dietary restrictions, can all share in this meal together as equals. In San Francisco, 40 UNITED SIKHS volunteers fed almost 800 people with salad, samosas, rice, naans, kidney bean and vegetable curries, rice pudding, tea, hot chocolate, milk and fruit.
UNITED SIKHS has been involved with providing langar in disaster areas in Haiti and Pakistan. In Haiti, UNITED SIKHS provided emergency shelter to over 5,000 earthquake displaced Haitians. Our Haiti ground team especially targeted those communities on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince who had not yet received attention.
In the lead-up to the Feed the Hungry event, preparations took place at the Fremont Gurdwara with the making of food by volunteers and posters created by local children. Volunteers then traveled to San Francisco. On Saturday, long lines of people waiting for food were given food tickets. This was alongside the distribution of take-away packages when guests were leaving. Interiors were decorated before the event, food was served in two halls and Sikh awareness brochures were distributed.
Much appreciation was shown by those who attended the event. Comments from those who were fed include: "Excellent food, thank you!"; "God bless you"; "I know you are a Sikh and you guys are very disciplined"; "Thank you for coming, my stomach is so happy today"; "Great job, thank you!"; "The food was so good – where did you cook it?"; "I like you guys, thank you for coming".
Bruce McKinney, who's been managing Glide Memorial Methodist Church for more than 3 years says the church facilitates the feeding of around 900 people and serves 2700 meals per day.
McKinney said: "We were all very happy to have the Sikhs here. All the people who ate here were very happy and enjoyed it. The food was excellent quality and we appreciated the generosity. This is a very good way of sharing the heritage of Sikh people and reaching out in a caring way to the community. We hope we can do this more often with the same kind of nutritious vegetarian meals. Despite the news of economy getting better, we have not seen any reduction in numbers that visit us every day. In fact we are seeing a rise."
Kashmir Singh, director of UNITED SIKHS in California: "I am thankful to the Sikh sangat who have generously donated their time and money to hold this event with United Sikhs. The blessings came pouring in from those who attended the event. The food was loved, thanks to the love that went into the preparation of the Langar. Many who came, talked to us about our identity and we shared the brochures about who we are. We hope to be able to do more for those in need."
Dr. Harbans Singh Sraon, who was among those who supported the event, said: "Langar is an example of how to share the fruit of one's labor with needy people selflessly as a support [to the] community."