Just seven months after opening his pizza and donair shop in southeast Edmonton, Rajwinder Singh decided it was time to give back to the community.
In late November 2023, he started setting aside 10 free meals to anyone in need on a weekly basis.
He credited the idea to his faith, Sikhism and the timing to the celebration of its founder, Guru Nanak’s birthday.
“We are just following their path,” Singh said.
Langar, a community kitchen that provides free meals, is a centuries old practice of the Sikh faith.
The concept was introduced by Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, and was institutionalized and made into an organized operation by his successors.
Singh chose the number of meals based on Sikh principle of donating 10 per cent of your income.
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He said he has provided free meals from his store Pizza Talks & Donair to individuals and families as well as people who have visited his store once or others who are more regular.
“We have one family here and they live in a van. They usually park here overnight and we told them to come every other day and get the meal,” he said.
During the cold snap when the business didn’t see much foot-traffic, Singh said he took the meals downtown to be distributed among the vulnerable population there.
Singh opened store with his sister last April. Both siblings have a background in hotel and restaurant management.
Despite rising costs affecting their business, Singh is steadfast on his commitment to support those in need.
“Our heart is with those people because we are new in the business,” he said.
He admitted the business was yet to turn a profit, but also said that is to be expected for a new business.
“We are still here for people,” he said.
He said they have a number of loyal customers who have been coming in ever since they opened. Some of them have started buying meals to help his initiative.
“Every week we have like one or two customers, they want to help, like they want to donate some meals,” he said.
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