10,000 Meals – A Diwali Celebration of Light

After providing care to local children for more than 100 years (combined) as pediatric specialists, Drs. Ashok and Ingrid (Sharada) Sarnaik may be officially retired – but they haven’t stopped working to help others. The physicians-turned-philanthropists are finding new ways to leave a legacy, generously supporting the community through initiatives that promote knowledge, support health and, through their latest effort, address hunger.

The Sarnaiks recently established an endowment for Gleaners through the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan. Their generous gift will provide immediate support to local families facing food insecurity, as well as establish a long-term source of funding for Gleaners to help provide food and resources to the community for years to come. 

“We have served the Detroit community as physicians, and they have served us,” said Dr. Ashok Sarnaik. “We came to Detroit from Mumbai, India, in 1970 (Dr. Ingrid (Sharada) and 1971 (Dr. Ashok), and we have spent our entire careers here; we’ve raised our family here. We are grateful. This gift is an expression of gratitude to the community, which gave so much to us, and which we feel so close to.”

The Sarnaik endowment will help Gleaners ensure that people in Southeast Michigan have access to sufficient, nutritious food. This year, the endowment will be used to provide more than 10,000 meals during the celebration of Diwali, which begins on November 10 and is celebrated for four days.

“This food will provide an impact for people,” said Dr. Ingrid (Sharada) Sarnaik. “To share what we have [with Gleaners] and have that be shared with people during Diwali means a lot to us.”

“Diwali is the most popular holiday in India,” said Dr. Ashok Sarnaik. “It’s known as the festival of lights, when the world is delivered into light, goodness and liberation. It’s celebrated over four days and has a focus on doing good deeds and spreading goodwill.”

By sharing more than 10,000 meals with their neighbors during the holiday, the Sarnaiks hope to spread awareness of the festival of Diwali and its message of good over evil, righteousness over treachery, truth over falsehood, knowledge over ignorance, and light over darkness. They call upon each of us to look for ways to bring light to an area of darkness in our own communities.

“Nothing in this world is yours,” Dr. Ashok Sarnaik. “All you can do is give back; all you can leave are your good deeds.”

Join the Sarnaik family in shining a light on hunger during Diwali by shopping securely online at their virtual food drive to support Gleaners. Click here to take advantage of Gleaners’ purchasing power to buy items that will be shared with our hungry neighbors this holiday season.  

The Sarnaiks recognize that addressing hunger is a foundational component of helping the community. When people have access to healthy, balanced foods like lean proteins, whole grains, fresh produce and fresh milk, the benefits are multiplied.

“This food is not a handout; it is a desire to help those in need – a way to share nourishment. We want everyone who receives these meals to be inspired, to learn and to grow.”

In addition to the Gleaners endowment, the Sarnaiks are passionate about supporting the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, where they both worked throughout their careers. They also fund medical research to continue advancing pediatric healthcare outcomes, and they support a number of efforts to provide educational opportunities and scholarships to local students as young as third grade.

“There are many enemies in the world today,” says Dr. Ashok Sarnaik. “So, we have chosen three enemies we are fighting: disease, ignorance and hunger. And how do we fight? Always with light.”