BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Atlanta, GA, July 4, 2020: As the world wakes to uncertain mornings in unprecedented times, different people are faced with different challenges. While it may be as simple as worrying about buying pajamas or school gear for fall for some, some families might be concerned about next paycheck, and some bear the burden of providing the very basic necessity for them and their family to survive, their next meal. Even as distress mounts each in its own way, acts of service rekindle hope and restore faith in humanity.
In our series, Giving, Dil Se in the time of COVID-19, featuring contributions of the Indian-American community, we present to you the charitable acts of individuals and organizations who have donated their time, money and services.
Food4Lives, a service family founded by Veda Sara Das and students from Georgia Tech and Emory in 2017 strives to feed, educate, and empower the homeless of Atlanta. During the time of the pandemic, this dedicated group has risen to the occasion, donating food, gloves, masks, sheets, sleeping bags, mattresses, toys, hygiene supplies, backpacks, tents, hundreds of pounds of clothing, and a wheelchair.
Food4Lives has also directly provided service opportunities and facilitated gainful employment. They also provide mental health support through counseling and personalized mentorship to those in need.
With a humble beginning, Food4Lives initially served one meal to over three hundred people every Saturday for 3 years, consistently. Food4lives believes in serving healthy home-cooked meals and transferring positive energy through vegetarian entrees, snacks, and drinks of the highest quality.
“Finding Food4lives was great for both of us. We love the fact they deliver fresh food from our house right to those in need. My daughter Ellie and I feel good being able to help and we hope to continue to work with this awesome group of people again,” says Amy Gies, volunteer.
“As Covid-19 sweeps the globe, we seize it as an opportunity to serve the people who need us the most. As a result, over the past two months Food4Lives has exponentially grown,” say volunteers Riley Strickland and Vikram Shingane.
Home-cooked meals by volunteers of Food4lives packed into delivery boxes have served 1,155 boxes to Emory Decatur ER, Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital ER, Emory Johns Creek ER, Emory University Hospital Midtown: ER, Emory Hillandale ER, Emory Main Campus and Northside Hospital, and 100 boxes to Police Commissioner’s office.
For the past 76 consecutive days, Food4Lives has served 150-200 boxes to assist the individuals and families who are suffering from economic hardships. “We seek out those experiencing homelessness in places such as the Northside Drive “Bridge to Nowhere,” Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Hurt Park, parking lots, highway ramps, various bridges, gas stations and the abandoned Gospel Tabernacle Cathedral. During Covid-19, Food4Lives has delivered around 15,000 healthy, well balanced, home-cooked meals. It is a true testament to the strength and heart of the people of Atlanta who have made these accomplishments possible,” say Strickland and Shingane.
Food4Lives has expanded to begin weekly distribution in Athens having served 75 meals and 50 boxes of snacks in partnership with shelters in Athens such as Sparrow’s Nest, Bigger Vision and Advantage Homeless Day Center.
“As a parent of two teens, I feel this tenuous situation opens unanticipated pockets of time to actively model and teach, with hands-on opportunities, how to significantly impact others with generosity and caring behavior by feeding and caring for those who need support the most,” said Lisa Hutson, service volunteer.