Through Facebook posts, Whatsapp messages, flyer distribution, and word of mouth, Varun and Adhir spread the word. And their networks leaned in to serve the community’s needs.
Two weeks later, they served approximately 1,500 people through their first grocery drive. Recognizing a continuing need in the community and the positive impact they were able to make, they decided to do it again. And with a strong and widespread network in the Los Angeles/Orange County area, they were able to find helping hands.
Another two weeks later, they served their first 100 hot meals. As the next two weeks progressed, they doubled to 200 hot meals. Realizing the demand, they decided to expand to 1,000 meals, but this meant more work and thus more funding. At this time, Dr. Nitin Shah joined the team, helping secure funding and meal commitments from nonprofit partners, like Sarva Mangal Trust Foundation and the Wadher Family Trust.
Beginning in July, they recruited more volunteers, found food suppliers, partnered with nonprofits to help distribute food, and raised awareness about the project in their community. Shrenik Shah, Adhir’s son, was roped in to help the project scale; he coordinated with volunteers, donors, and supplies on the ground. Dr. Shah helped assemble an in-house meal preparation team, enabling the team to serve 2,000 meals a week. Varun, on the other hand, spent much of the early pandemic in Atlanta. Despite the distance, he was able to spearhead the outreach effort, forging connections with organizations across the region to enable meal distribution.
Now, every Sunday, the team gathers about 20 volunteers together to help cook and package the meals, serving 2,000–2,500 people weekly.
Finding Community Support
To scale their project’s impact, they needed more hands. As word spread, people of all ages showed up to volunteer. High school students in need of service hours signed up to help, and as their parents came to drop them off, some of them stuck around and brought their friends. Volunteers came from several communities; Varun and Shrenik reached out to various cultural organizations including the Gujarati Samaj, the Jain Center of Southern California, and Sanatan Mandir.