Community Service takes many forms but providing food for the needy can be considered as one of the best forms of service. It is often said, Providing food, clothing and shelter to your parents and children are your Duty. Providing food, clothing and shelter to your friends and relatives is a Good Deed. Providing food, clothing and shelter to the poor and needy is Divine and is the real service to God.
The Food for the Homeless program had its origins in June 2007 when a group of volunteers from Sri Siva Vishnu Temple in Lanham, Maryland decided to pursue this cause and went over to the DC Central Kitchen in Washington D.C to prepare a day’s requirement of 4500 meals in the Nation’s Capital. Touched by the experience, the volunteers resolved to continue this community service activity on a regular basis. Over the past eight years, informal networks of individuals and organizations in the Washington Metropolitan area have emerged to carry on this activity. HACSI was a natural outgrowth of this informal group to help bring about a more organized and systematic approach to planning and execution of this activity.
A very simple concept involving 20 to 30 Families and Friends, together pooling resources to raise funds for not only providing food to the needy but also feeding one’s soul instantly took off. After a home-cooked breakfast brought by volunteers, the volunteers get down to business and in the process have fun working together as a team. This not only helped develop comradely among participants but also left an everlasting mark on the impressionable youth.
It is HACSI’s objective to continue this program for ever. By maintaining their identity, each group is able to perform this noble service once a year and is not dependent on just a handful of individuals to keep filling in. Someone in the group has always taken the lead and has organized the event.
Another very important objective of HACSI is to involve the second generation Hindus. So far more than 300 young adults have enthusiastically participated in the food for the homeless initiative.
Every year new groups joined to serve in the DC Central Kitchen. In last year VT SEVA, Sai Center of Fasirfax and JET USA – Washington Dc and Hindu Temple of Virginia and many new volunteer organizations joined to serve in the DC Central Kitchen. During the last 8 years of its existence, HACSI has brought under its umbrella more than 1,500 volunteers from twenty different organizations/groups – Temples, Social and Cultural Organizations and Religious groups as participants in the Food for the Needy program. Our volunteers have started involving the companies where they work and performing the service during weekdays.
Most of the activities are carried out in the large modern facility of D C Central Kitchen, Washington DC. Every day, 5,000 meals are prepared and distributed through homeless shelters in DC and nearby jurisdictions. HACSI volunteers prepare in DC Central kitchen ( DCCK) 110,000 meals (about 5% of 1.86 million meals prepared at DCCK). About half the meals are served in the DCCK facility and the remaining are distributed through shelters housing the homeless, battered women, needy seniors and school children. HACSI and its affiliates have so far served more than 650,000 meals and donated more than $200,000 to DC Central Kitchen. Recognizing HACSI’s service, the DC Central Kitchen featured HACSI in their 2011 Annual Report. Please view the interview with the chief executive of DCCK on You Tube “HACSI USA”.
On special occasions, for example in the first week of October to commemorate the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, cooking is done by HACSI volunteers in other shelters in Montgomery County and Prince Georges County.
2015 -2016 schedule involving the different groups:
- October 3, 2015 – Sri Venkateswara Lotus Temple, University of Maryland’s India Student Association, The George Washington University’s Indian Student Association, Iota Nu Delta Fraternity Inc. and Delta Phi Omega Sorority, Inc.
- October 31, 2015 – Hindu Temple of Virginia
- November 7, 2015 – Kaveri Kannada Association of DC Area
- November 14, 2015 – Nataraja School of Dance & Gnananda Seva Samajam
- November 22, 2015 – VT Seva and JET USA Washington DC
- November 28, 2015 – Prakash Mehta Family
- December 6, 2015 – Ayyappa
- January 2, 2016 – Kerala Association of Greater Washington and Kerala Cultural Society of Metropolitan Washington
- February 6, 2016 – Bala Vikas Virginia and Sri Ramakrishna Mission
- March 5, 2016 – Devotees of Sri Sathya Sai Baba
- April 2, 2016 – Kanchi Kamakoti Seva Foundation
- April 16, 2016 – Murugan Temple of North America
- May 7, 2016 – Nagarathar Sangam of North America
- May 14, 2016 – Jain Society of Metropolitan Washington
- May 28, 2016 – Students from Curie Learning Center
- June 4, 2016 – Devotees of Sri Ramanuja
- June 18, 2016 – Sri Siva Vishnu Temple
- July 3, 2016 – Nrityakalpana – Dance school of Charu Narasimhan
- July 16, 2016 – Sri Baktha Anjaneya Temple
- August 6, 2015 – Hope for Humanity and Capital Area Telugu Society
- August 20, 2016 – Sai Center of Fairfax
- September 3, 2016 – Devotees of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba
- September 18 2016 – Matha Amrudhanandhamayi Center
- October 1, 2016 – SV Lotus Temple, UMD ISA, GW ISA
- October 15, 2016 – Home for Humanity, Capital Area Telugu Society
- October 29, 2016 – American Telugu Association
- November 5, 2016 – Kaveri Kannada Association
- November 12, 2016 – JET- VT Seva
- November 20, 2016 – Gnanananda Seva Samajam
- November 26, 2016 – Prakash Mehta Family
- December 4, 2016 – Ayyappa Devotees
- January 7, 2017 – Kerala Association of Greater Washington, Kerala Cultural Society of Metro Washington.
How you can help us?
Interested Volunteers can participate in this program in many ways.
- By Volunteering time.
- By Donating Funds
- Starting their own Team to participate at HACSI program at DCCK or any other facility in Washington Area.
One can volunteer their services on any one of the scheduled dates by visiting our website http://www.hacsiusa.org and emailing us. The regular time slot is between 9 AM to 1 PM. Volunteering for a minimum of two hours is desired. Students will be able to earn the certificate for community service broadly recognized by most schools.
One can donate funds towards the purchase of groceries costing approximately $3,000 per day. No Donation is too small or too big. One Dollar feeds two people. All donations to HACSI are Tax Deductible. Many people have chosen to donate to celebrate special occasions such as Birthdays, Marriage Anniversaries or any other special day. Donations can be made in Cash, Checks or through our web site http://www.hacsiusa.org. Donations to such charitable organizations are often matched by the Employers.
A few volunteers have started their own groups by inducting their friends or co-workers. On any given day 35 to 40 volunteers are needed for 3-4 hours to prepare 5,000 meals.. If there are circumstances when a group is short of volunteers and/or donations, HACSI will be able to fill the gap with some notice.
Our plan is to replicate this program in other cities too.
For further information on HACSI”s Feeding the Needy Program, please contact K.G. Venkatraman at E-mail: email@example.com