Edmonton Sikh community provides free groceries to those in need during the pandemic

Sikhs For Humanity has been operating for seven years and plans on opening their own kitchen in downtown Edmonton

Sikhs For Humanity started 7 years ago to help those who cannot afford to feed their families

Sikhs For Humanity volunteers serve up food in this photo from 2019. (Sikhs For Humanity/Facebook)

Edmonton's Sikh community is coming together once again to make sure those in need have food on the table.

Sikhs For Humanity, an initiative started seven years ago to help those who cannot afford to feed their families, is giving away groceries.

Previously, the group served prepared meals like pasta, samosas, coffee and tea in a tent set up at Hope Mission every Saturday during the summer. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, the group decided to offer free groceries instead.

"A lot of people are going through difficult times nowadays and people lost their jobs and things like that," volunteer Manjit Nerval told CBC's Edmonton AM. "We decided to help out as many as we can." 

The first event of the year took place a week ago in the parking lot north of Sherwood Park Costco on Buckingham Drive. 

Nerval said they were prepared to give away groceries to 400 families but only 100 cars showed up. 

"We had some extra food and we ran it down to a few of the apartments around Sherwood Park, lower income apartments," he said.

He said from his conversations with people he learned many were out of jobs and in need of their service.

"They really appreciate it," he said. 

He said members of the group pool money together and then individuals go on grocery runs. Some people donate food and perishables. 

Nerval said they plan on distributing groceries for the next few months and then hope to move their work to a new kitchen they are building in downtown Edmonton.

"We plan on opening mid-April so we can serve the people," he said. 

Helping the less fortunate in the community is part of Sikh faith. Temples, called gurdwaras, house community kitchens and dining halls. 

"It's somehow in our blood," Nerval said. "We are taught to help others because we consider everyone to be like our own brother and sisters, because we are all one."

Sikhs For Humanity volunteers take groceries to vehicles of people in need. (Submitted by Manjit Nerval)