Food and Flavors Fill the Hearts of the Homeless
By Maya Téllez

Looking at the hundreds of plates filled with Karahi Chicken, Tandoori Naan, Palau, and Aloo-Gobi, one would never have guessed the meal INSAN served on February 27 th, 2015 was for the homeless. INSAN for Humanity, a pilot project by INSAN Foundation, works primarily in Sothern California, to provide care for those in need. As an organization, INSAN focuses on hunger and homeless, minimizing educational disparity, and inspiring future leadership.

INSAN has also been at the forefront of educational and humanitarian causes in India for 50 years. For the past three years through its INSAN for Humanity project, it has been assisting the Pomona Winter Shelter and its homeless residents, or as INSAN humbly calls them, their guests. Sometime they like to give a treat to their guests by surprising them with an international meal. This time it was Desi (sub-continental) cuisine prepared by a local restaurant, New Aashiana of Diamond Bar. The guests were served Karahi Chicken, named after the Indian wok in which it is prepared. One of the favorites of the guests was the Aloo-Gobi, a traditional potato and cauliflower dish. Both menus were carefully cooked in an assortment of authentic spices but mild enough for the American taste. Also served was an aromatic Basmati rice pilaf also known as Palau, and Tandoori Naan made fresh in a clay oven. Lastly, the guests were surprised with Jilabi, a sweet donut fried in circular shapes! As you can imagine, the guests were thrilled and incredibly thankful for the delicious meal.

Almost equally excited were the three dozen volunteers who spent their afternoon helping the guests by setting up their beds, organizing the bathrooms and showers, manning the supply closet, and preparing the meals. While most of INSAN’s volunteers are young adults, they make up a diverse group, coming from many different backgrounds, faiths, and walks of life. INSAN works to provide basic needs for their guests, and to instill hope in them. Unfortunately, the shelter will be closing for the season, and the delicious meal will be one of the last full meal for a while for many of the guests. Yet, as they filled themselves with spiced chicken, fresh vegetables, and steaming Naan, there was not a single troubled face in sight. As volunteers began to leave, the guests cheerfully thanked them and waved goodbye. After a single day's work it was clear that INSAN had filled the hearts, as well as stomachs, of its guests and volunteers with the very force with which it is named - humanity.

(Maya Téllez is a freshman at Cal Poly Pomona receiving a   communications  major and an INSAN Volunteer. She can be reached at




Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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