PHOENIX — A Valley non-profit organization, Punjabi Seva, is offering a free food pantry that runs every Sunday morning to serve their community in this time of crisis.
The group is a non-denominational volunteer organization that seeks to improve the well-being of families through advocacy, confidential support, education, and wellness.
The food pantry operates outside of the Sikh temple, Guru Nanak Dwara at 2302 N. 9th Street (near Oak and 9th Street in Phoenix) every Sunday from 9-10 a.m.
Organizer Mandeep Rai says anyone in need is welcome, regardless of their religious or cultural affiliation. They are there to serve their community.
"Sharing and charity is one of the central pillars of our faith we feel blessed that we can do it," said Rai.
This spirit of sharing is deeply rooted in the Sikh faith, added Rai. Especially sharing food, which the Sikh community does after every Sunday service. A communal meal is prepared and served with everyone sitting together to eat. The meal is called "langer."
"When it was first started this was to give free food to the community, as well as to abolish the class and caste systems," explained Rai.
Now this concept of "langer" is spreading beyond the borders of the Sikh temple, in the form of grocery bags and boxes for neighbors in need. The volunteer group has given away hundreds of bags filled with non-perishable food items, even toilet paper and masks, when they have them in stock.
"Each bag should be able to provide food for two people for about a week or so," said Rai.
She encouraged those struggling to make ends meet to come by Sunday morning to pick up some food. "Our message to everyone is we are all in this together, we have to fight this together. No one should feel alone," said Rai.
The group also helps the community with filing for unemployment, along with tuition assistance for children, and provides education and support for those struggling with domestic violence.