Langar On Campus
A great breakdown on how to run a Langar On Campus
Download a PDF copy here
Langar on Campus
Type of Event
Langar on Campus
Number of weeks preparation time needed?
16 (Need to book a space at uni). Food and transportation plans should be finalised a week in advance.
Number of committee members needed?
On the day - 10 (more if people are going to lectures). Organisation - 5
Any help from outside organisations needed?
BOSS, Student Union, Potentially a gurdwara. Hosted at uni. Can also get coverage with, for example, the uni newspaper.
Stepwise guide to preparation in the run up to the event
1. Book the space! A good 3-4 months in advance. Talk to the union about their expectations and requirements, you can't just give food on campus. Qualifications etc.
2. Inform BOSS.
3. Liaise with local gurdwara if there is one, otherwise find another place to cook.
4. Get people who know how to cook. For things to run smoothly you need at least 3 cooks experienced at making lots of roti (preferably around 6) and about 10 people in total to produce a suitable number. 2 people should be able to oversee the preparation of sabzi, daal, etc. Make sure there are at least 2 people who have a Level 2 food hygiene qualification. This is required at the University of Leeds and is a generic good qualification to have - it is valid for 5 years a so a 1st-year student who gets it can oversee all Langar on Campus events at the uni. Don't cook rice or prepare yoghurt it is harder to stick to the regulations for preparation of these items. Daal and chhole (chickpeas) are the easiest to prepare. 350-500 rotis is a rough approximate for how many you will need over one lunch with good promotion, but remember, spares can be given to a homeless shelter that day.
5. Think about what else you want at the event. BOSS provide information pop-ups for people to read. Do you want to set up any stalls with more information on Sikhi? Do you want people to come and do parchaar? Are there any students at uni confident enough to do this?
6. How else will this feel like a langar experience. Will you use audio? You could have Simran playing through speakers, or kirtan. It creates a much better atmosphere, otherwise the event can feel a bit boring. Borrow carpets or sheets for the floor from somewhere (ideally a gurdwara). Have people remove their shoes and cover their heads (you will need to provide head cloths and have a stall to collect and organise shoes - 3 people can manage this). Explain the idea of sitting down on an equal level, etc. to people.
7. Promotion - a Facebook event (the words "FREE FOOD" always get attention). Station people around uni on the day of the event promoting it, standing at places where there is a lot of footfall. Put some leaflets out a few days before (not just one day before). Someone needs to design, print and distribute these so don't leave it until the last day. Have a big banner saying, "FREE FOOD" and clear directions. around the union.
8. You need to communicate well with the union and uni kitchens in advance and on the day so that all procedures are followed correctly. Think about bin bags and disposables. Water for students. Make sure you understand their regulations and their equipment. Are you using the uni kitchens to store food? If so, what is their storage space like? Make sure you see it. A lot of coordination happens behind the scenes of any event which appears to run smoothly.
9. Don't just wing it on the day. Sevadaars should make their availability known before and be allocated specific roles. Plan the times out on an excel spreadsheet - include cooking times, travel times, transportation. Some things are bound to go wrong, but more preparation means less panic.
If food is freshly cooked at 7 am, do food hygiene regulations allow it to be served at midday? Therefore 2 people must get the actual food hygiene qualifications - this is done online and sometimes the union will fund it for you.
Getting the food from a van/car to the actual food venue can itself be time- consuming. Are there any trolleys available to transport the food on campus? One or two people should be overseeing the event and these people should avoid being directly involved in the seva while they are ensuring everything is running smoothly - you can't do manual work and manage the bigger picture at the same time.
10. If you're leading the event, don't just allocate roles. Make sure you've asked people what they'd like to do and what their strengths are - don't have someone who could be talking to the attendees about Sikhi serving roti or have someone strong who could be lifting the food sorting out pop-ups or preparing the hall. You need to maximise the potential. And although you want your members to have a good time make sure they're not just standing around chatting while there is working to be done. If you've signed up to do seva, do seva. There's a lot of work to be done.
11. Remember, it's not just an event to feed people. Most students have heard lots about other religions but know nothing about Sikhi. There's not much point in feeding 500 random people food and having them walking away knowing nothing more about us. Have people doing parchaar, stalls with lots of leaflets, maybe a PowerPoint presentation on loop. Langar on Campus is a huge effort, and someone must pay for the food - really try to maximise the impact of the event.
12. Organise a skilled photographer! Make sure you capture just how good the event is, you're making a fantastic effort! These pictures and videos can be used later social media and to submit applications for society awards.
Guide to running the event on the day
At least 10 people to cook in the morning. Sabzi only needs 2 people. Roti needs 8 easily. You really need some aunties because when you get to uni you realise almost nobody knows how to cook roti. At least 2 (preferably 3) people need to know how to roll a roti properly, at least 1 overseeing the cooking. The others can help with the cooking/flipping (under keen observation from the one who knows what they're doing), 1 can try rolling rotis, the others can make the dough balls and 1 can add butter at the end.
Sabzi and daal can be handled by 1 or 2 aunties. It's usually a matter of some prep to start the cooking and then just letting the sabzi and daal cook while occasionally keeping an eye on it.
You will need a van to transport the food, otherwise 2 car boots will do. If taking chaadars or carpets they also need to be taken somehow. Check the sizes of these - you might have to make more than one trip to the venue, and that means a delay in setting up the venue. People can easily get stuck in traffic so factor this into your times.
DON'T FORGET TO BRING SERVING EQUIPMENT WITH YOU.
People need to set up the hall. You need a shoe stall and place to receive and leave head cloths/scarves.
Who's going around the hall for extras?
Who's getting water from the kitchen?
Who's handling the waste?
Who's at the stalls?
Who's doing generic parchaar?
Are there any Sikh staff that want to get involved?
Who's taking pictures?
Who's on the audio?
Who's around campus promoting the event?
When you're finished:
Taking the pots and pans back to the gurdwara?
Do NOT let people be lazy while cleaning. You don't want to stretch out a 30-minute job into something that takes over an hour.
What could you have improved upon and what would you do differently if you ran the event again?
More organisation and planning the details. Don't worry if things go wrong on the day and be flexible, but it's important to have thought about the trivial things. You must really visualise everything that happens on the day beforehand to prepare everything and miss nothing. Otherwise you'll get in a panic - you can still have a successful day and be in a blind panic for the whole thing but it's not so good for your heart xD
Have an audio system in place, it completely changes the event.
If you're good with your promotion beforehand and especially on the day you will get a lot of people. Numbers peak around 12-1.30 so don't worry if you've started at 11 and there aren't so many people. A slow start will help you get into the swing of things.
People love to learn, especially if you can keep things concise but interesting. A lot of people just turn up for the free food but even if they don't want to stick around that's fine, just give them an informative leaflet.
Don't be afraid to ask people to cover their head, take their shoes of, etc. You want them to walk through the doors and feel like it's a langar hall. Sure, it's a new experience, but people really enjoy it.
Just do your best. Everything is Guru Ji's kirpaa.