For a few years, members of Sri Sathya Sai Center of Atlantic City have been supporting the Eastern Service Workers’ Association (ESWA), a mutual benefit association, that provide emergency food, clothing, medical and dental care and legal advocacy for their members residing in Pleasantville, an impoverished neighborhood. When COVID-19 struck, Sai Center members began to provide groceries to the ESWA members every month, instead of occasionally on Thanksgiving and Christmas. As one of the Sai volunteers explained, “Many of the ESWA members are working families who live paycheck to paycheck. With COVID, many are struggling to put food on the table. By the end of month, these families run out of money and are unable to feed their families.”

Each month, Sai volunteers put together food bags for 50 families on Friday, and drop them off at ESWA which in turn drops the bags off at the families’ front door. Each bag has 2 pounds of rice, 2 pounds of beans, dry pasta, pasta sauce, a dry pack of macaroni and cheese, canned corn, a pack of mashed potatoes, peanut butter, grape jelly, apples and granola bars. Center members clearly have a strong desire to be involved. When the list of items is distributed for Center members to sign up to donate, within a few minutes, all items are snapped up. Many volunteers who purchase the items express gratitude for the opportunity to serve. When delivering the food items, they experience an immense feeling of gratification to be able to make a difference in the lives of the ESWA members.

According to ESWA Operations Manager, “The local Sathya Sai Center has been a lifeline with their generous donations of food for the last four years. The recipients of the service are some of the lowest-income workers in South Jersey. Many hold down two or more jobs but still struggle to make ends meet. Others are out of work or too disabled to work anymore. Almost universally, we are having to spend twice as much at the grocery store as we did this time last year. It’s a struggle to survive. With the help of the Sai Center, we were able to distribute more than 142 food baskets to participating families this Thanksgiving, alone. We particularly appreciate how fresh and healthy the food donations always are, complementing our emphasis on a healthy lifestyle and a preventive approach to healthcare. With your help, ESWA members are better able to stand on our own feet and make progress as a group.”