The Indian Community Responds to the Food Crisis for Needy Families in the Pandemic

By Suresh Ramanathan, a PICAF Volunteer

Long car lines this spring that stretched over a mile outside the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank (Food Bank) with wait times of up to five hours brought national attention to our region. The increasing unemployment in Pennsylvania combined with numerous business closures and the socially crippling coronavirus brought about a perfect storm that debilitated families that had not previously experienced food insecurity. It was worse for other families that were already suffering and did not have any transportation to get to these distribution centers!

Visaka Muluk (in the sari), representing the Pittsburgh Indian Community and Friends, hands over the $100,000 check to Amber Deemer Lauren Babich and Beth Burell of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

The Pittsburgh Indian Community and Friends (PICAF) had an existing partnership with the Food Bank as we had worked with them to improve a breakfast menu for school children so that they were nutritionally charged and ready to learn!

Even before PICAF reached out to the Food Bank, individual donors from the Indian Community had already donated to the food bank. However, each of you reading this should feel good that Indian families in our region stepped up and helped Pittsburgh Indian Community and Friends (PICAF) raise over $100,000 in a matter of weeks!

As with all our partners, 100% of all that we raised goes to the nonprofits. The Food Bank worked with us to make sure 100% of what we gave them went to the program and not to overhead. Further a dollar-to-dollar match from 84 Lumber and Nemacolin Woodlands allowed us to double the amount and thereby double the number of meals delivered to needy families!

On Thursday, April 23rd, 2020 the Indian Community had a combined check presentation at the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank with $5,000 from Hindu Jain Temple, $25,000 from the S.V. Temple and $100,000 from Pittsburgh Indian Community and Friends (that includes a significant contribution from Chinmaya Mission and S.V. Temple). Dr. Visala Muluk represented Chinmaya Mission and the Pittsburgh Indian Community and Friends, Dr. Linganna, Secretary of S.V. Temple and Jayesh Selokar of Hindu Jain Temple.

The combined total was $130,000 that would have resulted in 750,000 meals; but with the match we were able to deliver 1.5 million meals!

This year PIC5K has gone virtual. We are turning our attention to eradicating racial inequities in education! One of the projects we are investing in helps families with young children deal with cyber classes conducted by the Pittsburgh Public Schools. The OASIS project has established a neighborhood pod school that buses children to the pod and feeds and mentors them as they attend online classes from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. PIC5K is raising funds this year to support an after-school program for these children focused on robotics and coding.  Please visit and helps us facilitate children learning while their parents have time to earn.  END$$


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