Sikh community hosts drive-thru 'Langar Sewa' for 2,100 families in Washington
Outside a place of worship in a parking lot, a group of not more than 25 volunteers has made and distributed more than 2,100 food packages in just seven weeks. The Guru Nanak Foundation of America Gurudwara in Silver Spring, in the Washington DC metro area, has turned the traditional tenant of Sikhism -- the 'Langar Sewa' into a drive-thru food distribution zone.
About 300 plus families in their cars, line up-almost bumper to bumper every Sunday morning to receive donated food items like fresh produce and packaged food -- a necessity for some in poverty or anyone else in search of a meal amid Covid-19. People from different faiths and religions show up in the drive-through as early as 9:30 am, even though the distribution does not open until 11 am.
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A volunteer, with a smile on his face and a package in his hands, places a week's worth of food items in every car trunk that pulls up at the Sikh temple's driveway vibrating hope and optimism.
"I am just so grateful that you are helping the community," a lady thanks the volunteers. "When you come here to get something, it is not like anything below your dignity, but it is looking forward to something that you can appreciate," said another of the many people lined up to receive the food package.
"That smile on the face I think that says it all and I think, more than them, it is us that are grateful that we have been able to carry out this food drive," said Ginny Ahluwalia, Representative of the Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee of the Guru Nanak Foundation of America.
The process of packaging and distribution is highly systematised. A team of volunteers shows up on Saturday to methodically assemble a room full of crackers, cookies, cakes, food cans and fresh fruits. On the next day, the volunteers then distribute the food package at the drive-through.
"By God's grace, we have been successfully doing this for the seventh week. We have not had any shortage (food and funds)," Ginny told ANI.
"People have been donating. So, whoever can volunteer is giving their time. Whoever cannot give their time is giving money," she said.
The gurdwara shares information about the distribution through regular posts on large social media groups for local residents and even reaches out to other places of worship in the community to get the word out.