We’re delighted to have been profiled this week in the Toronto Star and the Mississauga News. Here’s the story (and yes the heats back on now):
Teens help dole out food
Volunteers find meaning, joy while sorting staples at Mississauga’s new Seva Food Bank
The teenagers are perched on the edge of a wooden skid. They are crouched around bags of rice, flour and sugar.
Holding disposable coffee cups and a metal ladle, they are carefully scooping these staples into smaller plastic bags that will be given to clients at Mississauga’s newly opened Seva Food Bank, run by the non-profit group Sikhs Serving Canada.
These supplies, along with other foods, will likely be used in holiday meals in the coming days, whether the recipients celebrate Christmas or not.
The teens shiver in the unheated warehouse. They are tentative, waiting for instructions from the adult volunteers. There are a few awkward moments and giggles as they balance the bags and try not to spill.
When Hira Khurana calls out, “Tickets,” the teens scramble to get an old grocery cart. The call means clients are waiting out front – some carrying reusable bags and one with a suitcase on wheels – for supplies.
The teens grab tickets, tape them on carts, and use them as a guide to sort food, looking at clients’ requests from coffee or tea to no peanut butter or no meat or fish.
First stop is the freezer, for a package of flatbread. Then they go down the aisles, grabbing items from the metal shelves, choosing package sizes based family size.
Amrit Nannan, 14, starts putting Chef Boyardee and Beefaroni noodles in the cart, when her sister Harmin, 15, stops her, pointing out the ticket says “no beef.” They go through the cart again, replacing items with chicken.
After they collect bags of flour, rice and sugar, Amrit balances a small tray of six eggs in her hands. As Harmin opens the fridge, they discover the bags of milk are gone already. Then they wheel the cart onto a giant floor scale to weigh the food. For a family of four, the cart weighs 74 pounds – a seven to a 10-day supply.
Sonika Rataul, 15, who comes every Sunday afternoon to volunteer with her cousins, Karan Judge and Gahan Virk, also 15, says she’s always happy to come.
“We’re here to help,” she said. “When I look at poor people, I feel really sad, especially since we have a lot of food at home.”
It even more meaningful now “because it’s Christmas time,” Harmin adds.