Supreme Sikh Society NZ that looks after the Takanini and Otahuhu Gurudwara in South Auckland has been given Essential Service approval by MBIE on Tuesday, April 7, that enables them to serve thousands of community members in need of necessary food supplies.

With this approved essential services status, SSSNZ can now serve thousands of community members in Auckland as compared to the earlier figure of a few hundred. SSSNZ has also become the only Asian religious community organisation to be deemed as essential services by the ministry.

Takanini Gurudwara last one week alone served just over one thousand community members in South Auckland who needed necessary food supplies for their families during this lockdown.

This food distribution was done three times last week, once on Monday, April 7, where they strategically planned the distribution of the food supplies while maintaining the social distancing protocol by the ministry.

This week onwards, the food distribution will happen twice a week, Monday and Friday so that supplied given to the needy goes for at least three to four days.

“We have over 500 volunteers registered with us and at our disposal at all times, especially since the lockdown started. We have trained our volunteers on the drills for the distribution, safety regulations directed by the government and maintain social distancing not just amongst themselves but also with the community members while out on distribution,” Daljit Singh from Supreme Sikh Society told The Indian Weekender.

Takanini Gurudwara in Auckland

The food distribution happened on Monday, Wednesday and Friday last week with over 200 needy community members turning each day.

For every food distribution drill, the gurudwara is using 25 volunteers who harvest the perishable fruits and vegetables, wash them, pack them along with arranging and packing the purchased and donated food items and getting them ready to be taken.

Daljit Singh from SSSNZ

The drill on the distribution day starts in the morning with arranging all the item packed at the place of pickup inside the gurudwara parking spaces. Vehicles entering the gurudwara are directed to the pickup station asking to open their car boots upon stopping. A volunteer clad in his protective gear such as mask, gloves, etc. picks up all the food items and puts them gently into the car boots, and directs them to leave from Gate 2.

“The procedure of handing over the food packets has been kept completely contact-free, people enter the gurudwara one at a time, open the boot of their vehicle, get the food items and leave. We made sure the driver does not need to come out of the car, and we can maximise no close contact policy during this drill,” Mr Singh added.

The food items distributed so far include fruits such as bananas, pears, apples, oranges, a packet of bread, one to two bottles of milk, etc.

Mr Singh said almost 20 per cent of just over 100 of the 600 people that came on Monday belonged to the Indian community or Indian descent, the rest 500 people who turned up were Kiwis, Pacific Islanders, and from the Asian community.

On Tuesday SSSNZ announced getting the status of Essential Services that enable them to serve the community in multitudes and also go to houses of people who are unable to make it to the gurudwara for the essentials.

“Our volunteers can carry a letter that states that SSSNZ is an essential service and they are working for them, and they can show this letter if stopped by police while out on distribution to needy families,” Mr Singh added.

Friday, April 10, will be a big day for the SSSNZ team as this will be their first distribution since deemed essential services and they are estimating at over a thousand people during the all-day food distribution.

“In Sikhism, we believe serving humanity is serving God, and this has been our learning from our Guru, Shri Guru Nanak Dev. Serving humanity is one of the most important aspects of life, and we are just trying to do our part and help the community in need now,” Mr Singh added.

Mr Singh also said that in the last few days of food distribution, there were one or two such individuals who came for the food bag several times before being detected and stopped by the volunteers.

“These food bags, although plenty is for the people in dire need of basic groceries for the house. I appeal that people in need come and pick up the food packets but do not misuse this opportunity,” Mr Singh added.

SSSNZ has invited the people in need of essential food items, especially families having no or little means of financial help to not to hesitate and come to collect food items that will help them through this lockdown. He also appealed temporary visa holders and people stranded in Auckland to make the most of the opportunity and pick up the food bags for themselves.