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When Disasters Hit California, Sikh Temples Provide Meals and Refuge

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Photo of Amarjit Singh serving food to a family forced to evacuate
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On a clear fall morning earlier last year, Kashmir Shahi received an urgent call from the Salvation Army. The organization wanted to know if he would be able to provide food for over 700 people at a Santa Rosa shelter who had been displaced due to the Kincade Fire burning through California’s Sonoma County.
“They called me at 11 a.m.,” Shahi remembers. “They needed the food at 4 p.m. I live in Union City, and Santa Rosa is an hour and a half drive from there. They asked if it was possible and I said, ‘We will make it happen.’”
Shahi is a member of the Gurdwara Sahib of Fremont, a Sikh temple in Northern California. He immediately put out word to his congregation, and other members assembled to prepare food in the gurdwara’s kitchen. That afternoon they drove rice, beans, bananas, cake, chips, and oranges up to hundreds of hungry evacuees.
It was hardly the first time Shahi and the broader Sikh community have mobilized to help victims of California’s natural disasters. “I’ve been doing this since 2009,” Shahi says. “I know what it takes to do that much food.”
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