Sewa is an ancient tradition of Sikhism – one of the major religions of India, founded in the Punjab region in the 15th Century. Sewa teaches that, as part of their service to God, all Sikhs should give up their time, talents and energy to help the community.
This practice can take many forms, but the people of Melbourne’s Khalsa Foundation, an organisation of practising Sikhs, have chosen to channel their efforts into providing disadvantaged Melburnians with free food.
Not just any food, either. The Khalsa Foundation’s food truck is far more than your average tuck shop.
The everchanging menu presents a sumptuous selection of vegetarian curries, which are warmly welcomed by those needing a bite and some respite from Melbourne’s freezing winters.
One of the Khalsa Foundation’s organisers and volunteers also works for Isuzu Australia Limited.
The members of Khalsa Foundation don’t like to be named, so as to not to detract from the organisation’s team ethos. We spoke to the Khalsa Foundation representative and Isuzu employee about the project and their use of an Isuzu NNR 45-150 TC-AMT medium wheelbase model.
Khalsa purpose-built the NNR’s body to operate as a stylish, mobile curry house, before they started dedicating their Sundays to assisting in the organisation’s fundraising activities and the preparation of the delicious fare.
“There are hundreds of volunteers involved with this project,” the Isuzu employee said proudly.
“I know all the founding members, because we get together during the weekends for community programs, so they contacted me about buying the truck.”
The Isuzu NNR 45-150 was perfectly suited to Khalsa’s requirements, with a 4,500 kg GVM that allows it to be driven on a car licence, 110 kW @ 2,800 rpm and 375 Nm of torque @ 1,600 – 2,800 rpm, which makes easy work of carrying around a small commercial kitchen and navigating tight inner-city streets.
While purchasing the truck, the organisation worked tirelessly to engage the Sikh community and they’ve been warming the bellies of Melburnians ever since.
Khalsa’s food truck regularly serves up to 400 curries within a two-hour timeframe, evidence of the hard work of the volunteer staff.
“We’re split into different teams that handle food preparation, food serving, media duties and website maintenance,” he said.
“The Khalsa Foundation’s aim is to provide free vegetarian food (‘Langar’) to those in need. Our motto is ‘No More Hunger’ and we intend to live up to it.”
Not content with its current services, the foundation is aiming to branch out across new locations and begin operating multiple days a week.
Part and parcel of setting up in Melbourne’s busiest area is the stop-start nature of metropolitan traffic, so he decided the organisation would be best served by the NNR’s Torque-Converter equipped Automated Manual Transmission (TC-AMT).
The 6-speed, third generation TC-AMT has fully automatic and clutchless manual operation modes, and provides a sophisticated, intuitive driving experience with smooth and responsive gear changes for Khalsa’s drivers.
The truck body is fully equipped with hot cabinets, refrigeration units and freezers, which make it easy for Khalsa’s volunteers to keep the food coming.
The Isuzu employee said Isuzu were helpful every step of the way.
“Isuzu provided the Khalsa Foundation with a huge amount of support when they bought the truck,” he said.
“The foundation was very grateful, so they sent a thankyou letter to express their gratitude.”
The NNR has a raft of safety features to keep Khalsa’s volunteers safe, including Anti-lock Braking (ABS), Anti Skid Regulator (ASR) traction control and Isuzu Electronic Stability Control (IESC), which can automatically detect and help correct an unexpected loss of control, ensuring those pots of curry stay upright at all times.
Khalsa’s vibrant orange and blue truck can be seen serving food every Sunday from 5pm onwards in Melbourne’s CBD, opposite Federation Square on Flinders Street.
Lucky visitors who get in early might get to try the Soybean and Potato curry, a serious crowd favourite.
“Khalsa wanted to provide a service that helped and engaged with the community,” he said.
“It’s become something that we’re all very proud of.”