Most mornings I wake up early with a spring in my step, and head to our local Gurdwara (Sikh Temple) with my son Harvi.
When we arrive we start by washing our hands and taking our places six feet apart among a tireless group of volunteers including the men behind the stove and the kitchen sink, Mr. Satwinder Singh and Mr. Paramjeet Singh. Clad with masks and gloves to help pack and deliver food to those in need of a hot meal.
Once COVID-19 struck and we went into quarantine everything came to a grinding halt, I found myself barred from my regular volunteering duties. Initially, appreciating the first few days of the much needed break and finally the opportunity to stay home. However, very soon I felt distanced from my true self, my kids or my faith, I had to act!.
Hearing the news of food insecurity in my local community and knowing the commercial kitchen in our Gurdwara was not being utilized, followed by a few offline conversations with the members of the county, I was so excited and blessed to hear Guru Gobind Singh Foundation in Rockville had answered Montgomery County’s call to action.
A menu was created with a few simple dishes that were healthy, filling and easy to produce and very tasty too!
A large part of our faith, Sikhism, is a shared community meal at the end of each service called Langar, this is a free, vegetarian meal available to anyone regardless of their caste, creed, religion, and gender. By donating meals we are able to practice a key tenant of our faith while doing good work in the community we call home.
To give some background, Sikhism was founded 1469 as a monotheistic faith, with a large emphasis on absolute equality and justice for all and selfless service. It is this belief in serving without the expectation of reward that propelled our small but core team of volunteers to prepare these meals. As we prepared more and more we adapted our system to try and be as efficient as possible. From preparing all of the large boxes for transporting to trays the night before, to using an assembly line to pack the food, we found the best methods to quickly pack 500-600 meals a day, as we have done for the past fifty days now. In addition to just delivering food, every Sunday we host a drive-through for those who are willing to come and receive a hot meal along with a bottle of water, as well as donating meals to fire and police stations to help lessen the burden on those serving on the frontlines.
All of the “seva” (Punjabi for selfless service) our team has been blessed to carry out is completely funded by the Sikh community and it is this sense of community and a shared responsibility for the well-being of all people that inspires us to help lessen food security in our communities at large.
This experience has turned what has been a devastating period in our history, into an opportunity to serve, to continue in our faith and to build bridges across the community.
–Aman Shergill, IFC Board Member