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Plymouth woman fights fear with food

“Worry is another thing but at least your tummies are full with good food,” Jayanti said of the meals she and her husband distribute to seniors in need.

PLYMOUTH, Minn. — We are honoring Asian Pacific American Heritage month and sharing stories from our community.

A Plymouth woman has been spending a tremendous amount of time in her kitchen every day making meals for needy people during the pandemic.

Ammani Jayanti is originally from India. She said she was visiting her mother in early March and came back right when the pandemic became full blown.

“I always think of my parents, so I feel OK, how do they feel when they are left alone during this time,” Jayanti said.

That’s why when the pandemic started to hit the community, from pregnant women to seniors, Ammani jumped into the kitchen to help. 

Credit: Ammani Jayanti
Ammani Jayanti and her mother

“A lot of fear started in senior citizens because they didn’t want to go out,” Jayanti said. “I know a bunch of seniors whom I’ve been helping them for the past six years so then I spoke to them, nothing to worry about it the only thing is just stay home," she said.

And she did help them. Jayanti owns two restaurants in the metro, so she knows her way around the kitchen. She said it started with just her and her husband making dozens of meals a day. But that number grew.

“I started with 60 initially and ended up with over 100,” she said.

Vegetarian meals with items like rice or quinoa, lentils, salad, fruit and more are the meals Jayanti prepares. On the weekends, she throws in treats. Jayanti said the food either gets picked up outside her home, or delivered by volunteers. She says the need for meals is high.

“I see people coming all the way from Chanhassen, Bloomington, Edina,” Jayanti said.

But her drive to help eases her concerns, and keeps her in her kitchen.

“Worry is another thing but at least your tummies are full with good food,” Jayanti said.

She is getting help to buy the ingredients for her meals from the Indian Association of Minnesota. The association is working with others to complete a list of COVID-19 related relief efforts including making face shields, webcasts for services like employment or mental health. It is even trying to raise $100,000 to keep all this going. The organization has a helpline that you can call at 612-405-6135 or email them at covid19@iamn.org.

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