By Brendan Rees
A group of Devon Meadows-based volunteers who have been rallying around those in need have celebrated the official opening of their new community kitchen space.
Since the coronavirus lockdown, the Sikh Australia Volunteers has stepped up and delivered 53,000 free home-cooked meals seven days a week across Casey to those in isolation or struggling to make ends meet as a result of the pandemic.
The service was initially scheduled for two weeks when it began in March but due to an overwhelming demand, it continued and was again recently extended until the end of June before a review is held in July.
Sikh volunteers say they have been “humbled” and “proud” to open their newly installed kitchen which would allow them to expand their services and reach out to more people doing it tough.
The commercial kitchen, which cost more than $100,000 thanks to 100 per cent of community donations, features large prep tables, four basins, a hand-washing facility with an auto-sensor tap, gas stove cookers, a hot plate, pot sinks, shelving and new lights as well as a fridge and freezer.
In video streamed to the Sikh Australia Volunteers Facebook page, Sikh volunteers gathered for a small ceremony for the opening at the Sikh community centre in Devon Meadows on Sunday 31 May, which was led by Jasbir Singh, chairman of the Sikh Interfaith Council of Victoria.
“There has been a lot of hard work that has gone on behind the scenes to prepare this beautiful kitchen to serve the larger humanity and community,” Mr Singh said.
“This has been a long awaited dream that the Sikh volunteers have been planning.
“All these projects are possible when we have team work and all these volunteers have been working tirelessly without expecting anything in return,” he said.
“We would like to humbly appreciate and thank all those people, everyone; organisations, councils, communities, individuals who have been supporting them since 2017.”
Meanwhile, volunteers have been working around-the-clock taking phone orders for meals, with many people sharing stories of how the coronavirus has affected them.
The Sikh volunteers say all food preparation and service was being carried out under strict adherence of government safety guidelines.