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Region 4 - Coventry Sai Centre: Food Bank Service

Jai Sai Ram,

With Baba’s grace on 25th January 2014, a group of 12 volunteers including youth from the Coventry Sai Centre had the fortunate opportunity to do service at the Coventry Foodbank warehouse. The Coventry Foodbank was set up three years ago to help citizens of Coventry in need of emergency food aid. Baba says "Service to Man is Service to God".

In Coventry there are 60,000 people including children who are currently living below the bread-line. Their problems are very much a consequence of social and economic pressures. The Coventry Foodbank is providing temporary relief with free food to help families and the people of Coventry. Over the last 3 years the project has fed 33,000 people. A clothes bank has also been set up, helping to clothe people for school, work and the winter conditions. The ultimate aim of the Coventry Foodbank is to eventually help lift these people out of poverty through programmes such as employment training.

Figure 1 (a-b) - Volunteers sorting donated food items in the Coventry Foodbank warehouse.

The Coventry Foodbank warehouse where donated food and clothing is stored and distributed, forms an integral part to the overall operations. The warehouse has a 5000 sq ft storage space and is one of the largest in the UK. The facility relies upon the goodwill of donators and help provided by volunteers.

The Coventry Sai Centre volunteers on the day helped to inspect and categorise food items (e.g. rice pudding, beans, soups, cereals, coffee and tea) which had recently been donated. It is important that food items donated were within their best before date and of a suitable condition for redistribution. Volunteers helped one another with the tasks and worked as a team. The work ethic and spirit by which the volunteers undertook tasks was praised by the Foodbank warehouse manager, and welcomed future services.

The service had given volunteers an opportunity to experience the bliss associated with doing service and also acknowledge the scale of work undertaken by the Coventry Foodbank. Feedback from volunteers was one of an eagerness to help out again in future services.

We pray that this experience may help us to appreciate and be grateful of the food we receive and eat.

This is an extract on service taken from Bhagavan's Discourse given at the First All India Conference of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations, Madras (Chennai), 21/04/1967.

Service to others is the medicine one needs to alleviate the distress which fills one at the sight of distress in another being. Feel that you are serving yourself, that you are curbing your own ego. Otherwise, service heightens your self-esteem and develops a sense of superiority, which are both harmful spiritually".

Sai Ram,
Coventry Sai Youth