Food For Life
Hare Krishna Food for Life Program
Here they [the Hare Krishnas] have a reputation like the one Mother Teresa has in Calcutta: it ’s not hard finding someone to swear they are saints...
- The New York Times, “Grozny Journal”
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is doing its part to combat world hunger. In the last three decades, ISKCON ’s “Hare Krishna Food for Life” program has served more than 300 million hot, nutritious, vegetarian meals to the disadvantaged throughout America, Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe.In 1974, seeing street children rummaging through garbage for something to eat, ISKCON founder A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada was moved to tears and instructed his followers that no one within a ten-mile radius of any Krishna temple should go hungry. Today, the program includes free food restaurants, mobile kitchens, and emergency relief services, and distributes upwards of 400,000 free vegetarian meals per day to needy people in more than 60 countries.
“Too much grief and despair in the world is caused by hunger,” says Australian born Paul Turner, international coordinator of Food for Life. “Krishna devotees are dedicated to bring people hope by distributing healthy and sanctified foods.”
Recently, Food for Life chapters in New Delhi and Mumbai inaugurated successful “Mid-Day Meal” programs to combat hunger. These programs aim to liberate underprivileged children from the vicious cycle of poverty; they seek to encourage school attendance by providing students with fresh, nutritious lunches, free of cost. In Mumbai, the program partners with the state government and the Times of India media group, and feeds more than 30,000 students in over 100 schools every day.
In addition to regular distribution in low-income areas, Food for Life has provided aid during several emergencies worldwide. Some recent examples are:
- Earthquake in Pakistan (2006): Food for Life volunteers from several cities in neighboring India came together to provide relief. Working closely with local military and police, the volunteers set up a base at an ISKCON temple in Udhampur within the earthquake-affected region, and loaded trucks with drinking water, rice, bread, and blankets. The Food for Life team provided these items to the earthquake victims, including survivors in towns with the
- Hurricane Katrina in Gulf Coast, U.S. (2005): Local Food for Life team members ventured into the hardest hit areas of the Gulf Coast, to distribute hot, fresh meals to affected residents. Food for Life teams in Texas continued to offer aid to evacuees and displaced refugees, serving up to 800 meals daily for several months following the disaster.
- Tsunami in Southeast Asia (2004): Food for Life was quick to respond, providing relief support and hot vegetarian meals to people on the same day of the disaster. In Sri Lanka alone more than 10,000 meals have been provided daily, along with medical care, clothing, and shelter for orphaned children.
- Cyclone in Orissa, India (1999): Food for Life was able to distribute more than one million vegetarian meals, along with water bottles, blankets, clothes, and first aid treatment to the devastated survivors.
- War in Grozny, Chechnya (1995): Since the beginning of the Russian counterinsurgency campaign on Dec. 11, 1994, Food for Life volunteers risked their lives to serve 850,000 bowls of hot porridge, freshly baked bread and tea to the local residents. A New York Times article declared that in Grozny, the Food For Life Krishna devotees “have a reputation like the one mother Teresa has in Calcutta: it's not hard finding someone to swear they are saints. In a city full of lies, greed, and corruption, the Krishnas deliver the goods.”
Srila Prabhupada says, “The Krishna Consciousness movement is based on this principle chant Hare Krishna as much as possible, and distribute prasadam. If we believe that Krishna is providing and maintaining everyone, then why should we be misers? This means losing faith in Krishna , and thinking that we are the doers and suppliers. We are confident that Krishna will supply! Let the whole world come, we can feed them.”
“Simply by liberal distribution of pradasam and sankirtana, the whole world can become peaceful and prosperous.”
“Food For Life” programs are an important activity of many ISKCON, centers around the world. Food for life is a unique free food distribution program, which simultaneously satisfies the body by providing first class vegetarian meals for everyone. And it satisfies the soul because the food is prepared by temple devotees and offered to Lord Krishna before it is distributed. Thus it becomes Krishna prasadam, spiritual food that nourishes body and soul. In the Bhagavad Gita it is stated, “The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice.” Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin. Food for life is offering the highest welfare work, for it fills the belly while relieving some stock of Karma.
Every day we distribute Prasad for more than thousands of visitors throughout the day. During Festivals and Sundays, this sanctified food is distributed to around 4000 people.