At Greater Lansing Food Bank (GLFB), we know hunger can — and does — affect people from all cultural backgrounds, faith traditions and walks of life. But just as the experience of food insecurity is one that transcends our differences, so too does the tradition of supporting neighbors in need.
For the India Cultural Society (ICS), what began as Jai Jaglan’s personal tradition of giving has since transformed into a 30-year organizational tradition that has provided more than 1.6 million meals to neighbors in need since 1993.
“[Jai] started with a small group of people and realized, ‘hey, why don’t I put this out to the community, and everybody can be a part of it?’” said Bidhan Redey, an ICS member who has continued to lead the group’s yearly support of GLFB. “Hindu culture is food, clothing, shelter. I believe that we are just instruments for this cause.”
On Dec. 17, 2023, ICS presented more than $34,000 to GLFB — the largest yearly donation in the group’s giving history. The integral part food plays in Hindu culture could be seen during the service preceding the check presentation at Bharatiya Temple in Haslett, which included offerings of ghee, cooked rice and sweet along with traditional song and prayer — a reminder that for many neighbors, food is nourishment, but also culture, celebration, faith and tradition.
While food is the foundation of GLFB’s work, the impact on our neighbors of consistent access to the foods they need goes far beyond a full stomach — it is about dignity and hope, community and belonging. Food security helps provide the foundation upon which neighbors can achieve their full potential.
“It doesn’t matter how much we donate for different causes or different reasons,” said Shiv Singh, another ICS member, speaking to ICS’s continued and growing support of GLFB. “If we don’t donate to the hungry, all other donations are null.”
Since 1993, ICS’s annual contribution has steadily grown. This year, the group raised more than 102,000 meals, an increase of 12 percent compared to 2022. This heightened support comes at a critical time, as neighbors across mid-Michigan and nationwide continue to feel the strain of inflation, stubbornly high food prices and the end of pandemic-era federal relief benefits. Across GLFB’s seven-county service area, we have seen a consistent increase of 25 to 35 percent each month in neighbors seeking our services compared to last year.
Everyone has a role to play in the fight against hunger — start or continue your tradition worth sharing today by donating money, food or your time as a volunteer. A gift of just $10 can transform into up to 30 meals to provide neighbors with dignity, hope, community and belonging this season.