BY JYOTHSNA HEGDE
Photos by Vinod Devlia, Photography by Vinod
Atlanta, GA, April 28, 2020: As nature unleashed an unprecedented pandemic across the globe, society struggled to make sense of it all. Amidst grave news of distress and death, humanity and empathy are shining through, finding ways to serve another, in various forms and ways.
A nation known for abundance is also unfortunately home to abundant people who strive for basic human necessities, including a decent meal a day. Today, in our series, Giving, Dil Se in the Time of COVID-19, featuring contributions of the Indian-American community, we present the story of a team of organizations that teamed together to serve families in need.
“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread,” said Gandhi. To that end, many hungry homes had a hearty serving of bread accompanied with rice, palak, chana masala and various delicacies, thanks to Global Mall and Walia Hospitality Group.
The Global Mall in Norcross, GA and restaurant group Walia Hospitality Group joined hands to provide 1000 Free Meals per day for 9 Days during the global pandemic in efforts to help families in need, frontline workers and shelters.
The free meal drive that began on April 15, 2020 is held every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday for 3 weeks until May 3, 2020 between 11:30am to 2:00pm.
Owing to an overwhelming response to the drive on day one with hundreds of cars lining up at ahead of time at 10 a.m., wrapped around the building backing up traffic on Jimmy Carter Boulevard, the organizers launched a Facebook Fundraiser, raising $20,000 within 24 hours by over 200 donors.
“Global Mall has always taken pride in giving back to the community and during these unprecedented times we needed to do something and food was the best way to help. We are fortunate to have tenants like Ricky [Walia] who stepped up to partner in this cause,” said Shiv Aggarwal, Owner of Global Mall who came up with the idea for the food drive. Aggarwal, or “Shiv ji”, as he is affectionately addressed as, in the community, is known for his kind heart and generosity. Global Mall has always taken the lead in serving the community, and certainly rose to the occasion this time around, too.
“It’s impacted us all over the board. We are blessed that we are able to set up and help people that are in need right now,” said Ricky Walia, owner of Walia Hospitality Group that includes restaurants Ashiana, Cafe Bombay and Masti, which simmered sumptuous meals for the drive each day.
“It’s amazing to see what we can accomplish when we band together as a community, “said Vandana Aggarwal, from the organizing team.
“The fundamental issue here is compassion and care,” said one recipient of a hot meal.
Over the course of 3 weeks, 9000 free meals will be distributed to the greater Atlanta community through this food drive.