South Asian Food Pantry serving Indian-Americans, others, focus of community organization gala

South Asian Council for Social Services board members with Congresswoman Grace Meng, D-NY, sixth from left, at the Nov. 12 annual gala. (Photo: SACSS)

Food insecurity in under-served South Asian communities in Indian-Americans, in the New York metropolitan area, was the running theme at South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS) 2017 Gala held on Nov. 12, at the Congregation Rodeph Shalom.

The SACSS opened the first South Asian Food Pantry in New York City, in July 2016 to tackle the issue of hunger and food insecurity among under-served South Asians in a culturally appropriate manner, according to a press release from the organization. The South Asian Food Pantry’s achievements and operations and how Indian-Americans and others were availing of its services, were featured this May 17 by News India Times ( and carried in several of its publications.

In just over a year, the South Asian Food Pantry is serving 1,263 individuals every week, with new community members registering every week, a press release from the organization said. Early this year the South Asian Food Pantry was also featured in a New York Times report that focused on the importance of serving culturally palatable food.

“Every week we have new clients that register for The South Asian Food Pantry, this emphasizes why it is important to have more such programs and expand them to other underserved neighborhoods such as Jamaica and Jackson Heights” Sudha Acharya, executive director of SACSS is quoted saying at the gala.

Sudha Acharya, left, executive director of the South Asian Council for Social Services, and New York City’s Food Policy Director Barbara Turk, chief guest, presenting Youth Volunteer, Nikhil Prajith Kumar with a gift at SACSS Gala 2017, Nov. 12. (Photo: SACSS).

New York City’s Food Policy Director Barbara Turk, the chief guest at the gala, talked about being impressed by what she saw during her visit to the South Asian Food Pantry. Michelin-star chefs Hemant Mathur of Tulsi fame and Surbhi Sahni of Bittersweet NYC fame, were honored at the event for their culinary achievements and various contributions to the South Asian and immigrant communities.

Other notable dignitaries at the event included Congresswoman Grace Meng, D- New York, a long-time champion and supporter of SACSS; and Nepal Consul General Madhu Kumar Marasini. At the gala SACSS also recognized volunteers Shalini Saini, Lilavati Patel and Elba E Licera, for their support. Youth Volunteer Nikhil Prajith Kumar was recognized as the youth leader of the year.

Congresswoman Grace Meng, D- NY, right, Nepal Consul General Madhu Kumar Marasini, second from right, and Devi Ramchandran, left, Honor Michelin-Star Chef Surbhi Sahni. (Photo: SACSS)

Actor Pallavi Sastry entertained the audience as she emceed the event. Comedian KC Arora of the ABDC (American Born Desi Comics) group kept the audience laughing. The evening concluded with a rousing Masala Bhangra dance by Sarina Jain.

Started in 2000 to empower and integrate South Asian and other underserved immigrants in the economic and civic life of New York, SACSS serves more than 6,500 clients each year through services in the areas of healthcare access, senior support and benefits, the food pantry, English and computer classes and civic engagement. The South Asian Food Pantry is open every Friday from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm. Apart from providing staple items such as pasta, cereal and fruit juice, the South Asian Food Pantry specializes in giving South Asian items such as rice, flour, lentils and spices.

For additional information about SACSS programs contact at or 718-321-7929.



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