Indian-American religious communities conduct nationwide food donation effort

Sewa Diwali annual report pictures and data collage. Photo: courtesy organizers/Sewa Diwali

This Diwali season, 315 ‘Dharmic-American’ organizations and communities came together to collect more than 590,000 pounds of food, donating to about 240 food distribution centers across the country, a Dec. 9, 2021, press release from Sewa Diwali said.

Sewa Diwali is “coordinated nationally by the Hindu SwayamSevak Sangh, USA,” according to the outreach materials sent by the organizers.

Through Sewa Diwali, communities throughout America which align themselves with the Dharmic values originating in the Indian subcontinent – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains – channeled their service (Sewa) into a collective, far-reaching initiative involving volunteers across all age groups and serving a wide American demographic, the press release said.

The effort extended across 31 states and involved more than 200 townships, organizers said.

“This festival presents us with an important opportunity to put one of our core Dharmic values into practice: the entire world is a family,” said National Coordinator for Sewa Diwali Krishnamurthy Woonnimani. “We want to extend our celebration and warmth beyond just our families and friends.”

The distribution centers which received food through Sewa Diwali included food pantries, schools, colleges, and houses of worship.

Mark McCormick, president of Middlesex College in Edison, NJ explained, “We have over 10,000 students and many of them experience food insecurity. The food donated today will go a long way toward alleviating that food insecurity and helping them focus on their studies. We’re very grateful.”

Mayor John B. Muns of Plano, Texas, while thanking local volunteers, noted, “Your generosity gives hope to folks who have food insecurity. There’s a lot of hard work that goes into giving back to a community.”

Aparna Jujjavarapu, the North America executive secretary at Chinmaya Mission added, “We are very glad to be a part of Sewa Diwali and hope to continue to live up to our pledge of producing more than what we consume and giving more than what we take. May we all continue to stand as one family with love and respect.”

Sewa Diwali also received recognition from several government officials across the United States. “Your partnership with Sewa Diwali to supply the town of Harrisburg’s Community Food Pantry is of great merit,” said State Senator Paul Newton of North Carolina, “and I believe your service to those in need will have a significant impact.”

“We were very happy to see so many children practice and experience something so essential to our culture and to humanity – that is, selfless service, or sewa – on this auspicious occasion,” added Chand Mehta, president of the Rajasthan Association of North America.

According the organization, “SewaDiwali strives to make a difference in the lives of those suffering from food insecurity. Driven by the values of Dharma and selfless service, this noble act of giving back is a collective initiative of organizations and individuals from Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Jain Communities. This initiative is nationally coordinated by Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh USA, a non- profit voluntary service organization.”



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