24/7 Food Seva
The 24/7 Food Seva project was started seeing the need to reach out to people who were struggling to manage even one square meal a day. Living in tough conditions and low on self-confidence, they toiled away tirelessly in search of their next meal. These are people who live in appalling conditions in the poorest areas in Bangalore. Well, for those who haven’t seen this side of Bangalore, it will be a shocker when these really hungry and desolate people narrate their daily battles for survival. In times when this city is said to be “growing”, the fact is that the lives of these people is only getting harder.
With food being scarce, the children and elders resort to eating whatever is available for less money. Packets of chips, fast food etc. When the primary challenge is to get food on the plate it becomes hard for the family to find new ways to survive everyday. One might argue that they should find a way to work but that is always easier said than done. With multiple challenges such as lack of job opportunities, communication issues, lack of self-confidence, inferiority complex, etc. it becomes hard for the people to find work and their pushed to even send their children out to work for daily wage in hotels, garages etc. discontinuing their education. Only when the fundamental need that is food and nutrition is taken care of can one pursue anything else. The people living in these harsh circumstances often fall ill due to lack of access to quality health care for want of money. People with existing conditions often discontinue their medications as they simply can't afford the same. When it comes to a point, between feeding their family and buying their medications that cost a lot they choose to feed their family. Food therefore is the first and foremost medicine to healthy and happy life.
Each part of the Food Seva has been conceptualised based on the actual needs that exist. One of the most unique part of the Food Seva Project is the midnight Seva which takes place from midnight to 6am. Here is the genesis of this project - The truck drivers plying across Our Country everyday round the clock, meet with accidents which occur due to tiredness when drivers fall asleep. The drivers are often hungry and some driving from long distances get really drowsy during the night hours. Finding fresh food and tea during these hours is really hard. Some of the truck drivers aren’t able to afford a good meal even once a day. The truck drivers and the other passengers on the road would be safe if the truck drivers driving those huge vehicles are well fed and refreshed making them stay up in the wee hours of the night. We decided to take up this project and decided to give it our all to make a difference to these lives by first making them eat just like us; 3 times a day, for only when hunger is satiated, change actually begins.
Why we do
Sai Aashraya's central kitchen with state of the art facilities is helping cater to the mass cooking being carried out every day. A team of 5 incredible cooks are with the guidance and support of Sai Aashraya's core team cook fresh and healthy food round the clock. Love is the main ingredient always! Volunteers take turns and participate in the preparation and the loading of the food into Sai Aashraya's Food Truck as well.
Our state of the art central kitchen that cater to the Seva doles out with clock work precision the most wholesome and tasty food cooked with Love in the most hygienic conditions. High quality Provisions are sourced in bulk quantities every month. Fresh vegetables, fruits, milk and cards are sourced fresh from the farms every day.
Sai Aashraya's Food truck has been modified to carry not just food but clothing and other essentials as well. The volunteers pack all the clothes which are either new or almost new (They are washed and ironed) and then distribute them to people as and when the need arises. The Food Truck has become a symbol of Love & Joy and always gets a warm welcome everywhere.
Our Volunteers divide themselves into two teams. One to serve food and the other to interact with the people to bring a meaningful transformation. The volunteers identify the children not attending school and send them back with all their needs taken care of from uniforms to stationeries. We have been able to support the higher education College, education, internships et cetera of many students who were dropping out from the courses they were perceiving for the want of money. Many of these students today come back to us and tell us how they will work towards helping many more students in their future.
People seeking work are guided by our volunteers in a systematic manner by mapping their skill sets and ensuring the up skilling of people wherever possible. Over the years, with many dedicated volunteers joining us, we have been able to be a part of the journey of each family in these areas becoming self reliant leading to the holistic transformation of the entire area. When one entire area becomes self-reliant, we identify and start serving in other under-served locations where people are in need of help.
What we do
The first pillar of Sai Aashraya is Food & Nutrition. The Seva Projects around this pillar ensure that this fundamental need is addressed. Food & Nutrition gives good Health, Good Health enables children to acquire the right knowledge, and helps elders find a way to move ahead in their life by finding work that keeps them motivated, this in turn ensures that the family is happy.
All the people sit down together and eat happily with a smile on their face not because the food is served to them free of cost, but because they are filled with Love every time they partake food as morsel of food is filled with only Love. The impact is something heartwarming. The people in the slums are now free of the need to battle for food on a daily basis and are so happy and relieved.
With the hunger sorted out, people have been able to find work with the help of our dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly to assist them in the process. Many of them have found work enough to self sustain their family. With all the social evils such as smoking, drinking, chewing tobacco etc. gone away, one can see the happiness in each family that we have been able to serve.
From the Family the same Peace and Joy spreads to the Society, to the Nation, and to the World. Serving Food with Love is an excuse to communicate to the person’s Heart even as the hunger is being satiated. We begin to see ourselves in all the people we meet leading to us becoming better people every day. We aim to carry out this Seva in the best way possible and do our best to make sure that no one goes to sleep hungry. In the times to come, we aim to adopt more schools, serve in many more localities and strive to bring this Holistic Transformation by working together with the people who give us the opportunity to carry out this Seva.
When one area self sustains, the local volunteers in charge come and request us to stop serving food in their area as they feel they are self reliant and offer to volunteer with us to serve those who are actually in need. Their heart is such that they tell us that they would like to see the lives of those under-served people transform like theirs did!
The 24/7 Food Seva is a joy to behold for the young and the old, and we at Sai Aashraya celebrate this festival of joy every day with Love & Joy multiplying manifold every moment. Food is just an excuse to sit down and communicate with all these people and that results in transforming lives. We truly are living life now which otherwise we would have been going through. About 5.5 Million meals cooked with love have been served as of December 2022.
To learn more about the story of the 24/7 Food Seva and the impact that it is being created, please do watch this video: -