Franchisees Ravi and Harpreet Chahal

Franchisees Ravi and Harpreet Chahal serve the servers.

When local businesses closed because of COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, the number of unemployed residents facing financial uncertainty soared. So many people turned to the Santa Maria Salvation Army for help that it expanded lunch service from five days to seven. Ravi and wife, Harpreet, who franchise 7-Eleven stores in Santa Maria and Arroyo Grande, volunteered to provide lunch and give the cooks a much-needed break.

“I have been around Ravi for 18 years and have seen him do some amazing things. For me, this one tops them all.”

On April 14, Ravi and Harpreet got up at 4 a.m. to prepare and serve a home-cooked lunch for 180 people who showed up at the Santa Maria High School shelter. They had enough food to serve dinner to another 90 senior citizens at a mobile home park. Three days later, they did it again – this time serving 190 lunches. 


The couple also has donated snacks, drinks, gloves and hand sanitizer to local law enforcement officers working for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, and Santa Maria and Arroyo Grande police departments.


“Very few people will do something like this during the best of times. Virtually nobody will do this during the time that we are in,” said Field Consultant David Continente.