Overcoming COVID-19: Business, Faith, and Family

Written By Guest User, Posted on May 19, 2020

Speaking to the concerns of Calgary and the residents of Ward 5, City Councillor, George Chahal, says, “when it comes to food security and the ability to buy food, those concerns are had by all Calgarians and not just my constituents.” 

“Many hold concerns about our supply chain, and whether there will be food at their local grocery stores. That anxiety led to people panic-buying with a fear that we may have shortages long-term.”

Taking a moment to unify residents, Chahal reassured Calgarians that the solution remains local, despite some 1,500 confirmed cases and three deaths at the Cargill meat-processing plant near High River.

“Rather than being dependent on other national and international sources to meet demand, we have to source local agri-food and stimulate the local economy. We must support our agri-food industry in our province because we do have a strong supply chain.”

Recently, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, committed to $5 million in support for farmers, food processors and agri-businesses, to help subsidize employee training at $2,000 per employee and $50,000 per employer maximum.

$1 million in additional funding was also provided for meat-cutting training at processing plants like Cargill, as part of a five year, $3-billion commitment to support Canadian agriculture and agri-foods.

Speaking to the assistance provided by Calgary’s City Council, Chahal notes, “it has been a challenging time for everybody.” 

“We have many support systems in place to help our residences and our businesses from deferrals on property taxes and utilities to looking at further red tape reductions.

“There must be resources available to help residents in the tough times moving forward. If we work together, we will get through this crisis.”

Chahal: Community organizations and Food Banks have alleviated food shortages

Chahal took the opportunity to also give thanks to the local community and religious organizations that have helped mitigate food shortages amidst rising unemployment and those hit hardest during the lockdown.

“The Calgary Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, and others have done tremendous work throughout the city, and have done so for many years,” says Chahal. “We are thankful for the work they’ve done and continue to do in service of Calgarians.”

Despite initial concerns over the lack of support for truck drivers, who went long spells without nourishment on the roads, companies like Tim Hortons and McDonalds have met the demand with road-side delivery.

The Dashmesh Culture Center has also stepped up and filled the void, especially amongst ethnocultural communities where the food bank has less reach.

Referencing the ingenuity of local small businesses and grocers, the Dashmesh Culture Centre worked with private businesses and received donations from its congregation to make over 700 meals a day. “Those collaborative partnerships are essential, as two weeks prior, they made a large donation to the Calgary Food Bank as well,” says Chahal.

Raj Sidhu, a representative of the Martindale gurdwara, said that they “received calls from truck drivers in need of meals, due to restaurant closures and limited access to food on the road.”

Truck drivers were recipients of about 100 meals a day, according to Sidhu.

As the need from the community grew, Sidhu mentioned that they facilitated donations to the DCC Food Bank, including non-perishable food items and hygiene products.

“We are thankful for the overwhelming response from the community, small businesses, and large food-chains, including Safeway, Loblaws and other generous donors. With all our proceeds going to those in need, we have spread the love to the Calgary Food Bank and the Salvation Army. Currently, our hampers serve 25 plus families of 4 each day.”

Chahal acknowledged the resiliency of Calgarians, “as neighbours were helping neighbours, and paying it forward.”

“Some great community stories are coming forward, and it’s great to see everyone working together.”

Calgary’s Sikh Community has empowered through Seva and langar 

In correspondence with Sidhu, he told The National Telegraph that “langar is as it always has been: open to everyone.” 

Continuing, he said, “at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we felt that it was the right thing to keep the doors open and feed those who needed a warm veggie meal.”

“As the days went by, we noticed the need was getting bigger and bigger, so we started the initiative ‘No Hungry Tummy’ where we meals were made available to all Calgarians in need.”

Through social media and by word of mouth, they served over 500 meals a day and delivered to those lacking access to transportation and who faced mobility issues.

Sidhu and the gurdwara’s president, Amanpreet Gill, referenced the three key pillars of Sikhism as the source of their volunteerism. Through Kirat Karni (honest living), Vand Chhako (sharing with others), and Naam Japna (focus on God), they are devoted to helping Calgary see better days.

“Through Seva, a core value of Sikhism that preaches tolerance and kindness, the people of Calgary and those across Canada are generous, and we want to help in whatever way we can,” says Sidhu.

“Through the dedication of our volunteers, we can run these programs that engage the youth, who we consider to be the leaders of tomorrow. Through helping others, we feel they build those necessary leadership qualities that benefit them in their future endeavours.”

Seva is at the forefront of what the Sikh community believes, and that has been demonstrated in the strong leadership of the Dashmesh Culture Center,” says Chahal. “Any time there has been a crisis, whether it’s here locally, nationally, or internationally, we have been blessed by their profound generosity, time and time again.”

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