Surrey Sikh group helps hundreds by delivering free meals during pandemic

Mar 27 2020, 5:59 pm

Volunteers with the Surrey-based Sikh Awareness Foundation (SAF) have been extremely busy over the last few weeks ensuring some of Metro Vancouver’s most vulnerable don’t go hungry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since March 18, the group has delivered hundreds of free, hot meals to Metro Vancouver’s most vulnerable residents — specifically single mothers with young families, domestic abuse survivors, seniors and elders living alone, international students, and those laid off due to the pandemic.

The program, called “No Hungry Tummies During COVID-19,” partnered with Surrey restaurants that shuttered their doors to the public.

The cause is driven by one primary factor: seva — or selfless service — a key tenant of the Sikh faith.

“I take every single thing as seva. It’s going the extra mile by reaching out to people,” explains Shamandeep Singh, CEO and founder of SAF.

“We teamed up with local restaurants. Some are giving us free food and most … we are paying. We’re trying to join hands with restaurants that are small.”

Singh says the restaurants they’ve partnered with have taken extra precaution during the pandemic with stricter food preparation guidelines. The meals are all vegetarian, comprising of naan, rice, and curried vegetable dishes.

Most of the restaurants SAF has teamed up with are Indian eateries, but the organization also created a kids menu that includes pizza, juice, and other snacks.

SAF volunteers then pick up meals and drop them off to the doors of those in need. Delivery is contactless in order to practice safe social distancing.

The program’s impact has been felt across Metro Vancouver. According to its latest stats, SAF has served 413 people — including 230 kids — across Surrey, Delta/ Ladner, Langley, New Westminster, and Tsawwassen.

Singh says they’ve even received calls from across the border. “Actually, we got a call from a [family in] Michigan for a [grandfather] who is stuck, is 70 plus years of age, has medical issues and no relatives in town. We did a food delivery for him as well.”

While the meal program was intended to run until March 31, SAF’s last delivery — at least for now — will be this Friday, March 27, as many restaurants are now closing due to the pandemic and access to hot meals is becoming limited.

However, SAF says it will reevaluate on Monday to see if they can resume service until the 31st.

“We’re incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to do for our community, and are very thankful to all those that continue to support us,” SAF told Daily Hive.

For more updates on “No Hungry Tummies During COVID-19,” visit SAF’s website.