Hare Krishna Food for Life
Hare Krishna Food for Life is the world's largest vegetarian non-profit food relief organization. Its efforts span the globe, with projects occupying over 60 countries. Volunteers provide up to 2,000,000 free meals daily. Food For Life does not only tackle only one form of hunger but reaches out to all in need, including; the homeless, disadvantaged children throughout India; and victims of natural disasters around the world.
With roots in India, the Food for Life project is a modern-day revival of the ancient Vedic culture of hospitality with its belief in the equality of all beings. It was conceived of and began by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness in 1974 and is thus commonly known as ISKCON Food For Life or Hare Krishna Food For Life. It has been lauded by The New York Times Vegetarian Times, as well as Paul McCartney and Nelson Mandela amongst others, for its relief efforts worldwide.
Food for Life as a project was initially inspired by an elderly Indian Swami, known as A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder Acharya of ISKCON. In 1974 when watching a group of village children fighting with dogs over scraps of food, the Swami became upset and told his students, "No one within ten miles of a temple should go hungry... I want you to immediately begin serving food." In response to his plea, members of ISKCON and volunteers around the world were inspired to expand that original effort into a global network of kitchens, cafes, vans, and mobile services, all providing free food, and establishing daily delivery routes in many large cities around the world. Since that day, Food for Life has grown into the world’s largest vegan/vegetarian food relief program. The distribution of sanctified plant-based meals has been and will continue to be an essential part of India’s Vedic culture of hospitality from which Food for Life was born.
With volunteers serving up to 2,000,000 free plant-based meals daily to schools, as well as from mobile vans and to disaster areas. FOOD FOR LIFE is now the largest food relief in the world, eclipsing even the United Nations World Food Programme.
Food For Life volunteers have provided food for the poor and homeless during several recent disasters.
- 2015 - Food for Life Nepal provided over 100,000 vegan meals to survivors of the April 2015 Nepal earthquake.
- 2013 - Food for Life provided vegan food relief to survivors of Cyclone Phailin in India and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
- 2008 - Food For Life served freshly cooked vegan meals to survivors of Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike in the southern United States.
- 2007 - Food For Life volunteers were on the ground to feed many of the hundreds of thousands of survivors who were left homeless after the deadliest cyclone to hit Bangladesh in a decade.
- 2005 - Following the earthquake in Pakistan, Food For Life volunteers worked side-by-side with local military and police personnel, distributing drinking water, food, tents and blankets.
- 2005 - When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast with deadly force, Food For Life volunteers were among the first responders, distributing up to 800 freshly cooked meals daily to needy families in Mississippi and Texas.
- 2004 - 2005 A killer Tsunami wreaked caused massive damage to areas in South Asia, resulting in the deaths of nearly 200,000 people. Food For Life volunteers joined the relief effort on the very day of the disaster, providing thousands of meals daily, along with medical care, clothing, and shelter in Sri Lanka and India.
- 1990s - Food For Life volunteers risked their lives in the war-torn countries of Chechnya, Bosnia and Abkhazia, distributing food to needy and frightened civilians.
In total, Food for Life has distributed more than 2 billion meals since its inception.
Food for Life has expanded its reach to include, eco projects such as Working Villages International; as well as orphanages such as Gokulam – Bhaktivedanta Children’s Home Gokulam in Sri Lanka, a refuge where needy children receive food, shelter, medical care, education and loving care.
Siege of Sarajevo
In the war zone of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, volunteers visited orphanages, homes for the elderly, hospitals, institutes for handicapped children, and basement shelters on a daily basis throughout the three-year conflict; an estimated 20 tons of food have been distributed since 1992.
In a New York Times article dated (December 12, 1995) volunteers in Chechnya were described as having "a reputation like the one Mother Teresa has in Calcutta: it's not hard finding people to swear they are saints."
Food for Life was the first food relief agency to respond to the tsunami disaster of December 2004. On the same afternoon the great tsunami hit, Vaisnava monks at ISKCON's temple in Chennai, India were preparing their weekly Sunday vegetarian feast, when they heard of the disaster. They immediately raced to the most affected areas on the southeast coastline of India and began serving thousands of people with their preprepared vegetable curry. Over the following 6 months, Food for Life Volunteers in Sri Lanka, India, Europe, USA and Australia provided more than 350,000 freshly cooked meals, along with medical care, water, clothing, and shelter for children at ISKCON's orphanage in Colombo, the Bhaktivedanta Children's Home.
Food for Life Global Volunteers responded to the Hurricane Katrina disaster in late August 2005 by providing vegan meals to families relocated to Mississippi and Texas. Up to 800 meals were served daily.
Volunteers from Udhampur, Jammu, Amritsar and Haridwar under the guidance of His Holiness Navayogendra Swami Maharaj, a prominent disciple of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, came together to provide relief for victims of the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. Working from an ISKCON temple in Udhampur, which was within the earthquake-affected region, the volunteers loaded trucks with drinking water, rice, bread, and blankets.
ISKCON Food Relief Foundation
Food for Life Global's principle affiliate, the Food for Life Annamrita program, was founded by ISKCON Food Relief Foundation (IFRF), believes in providing children with the right nutrition to support their education. IFRF's Food for Life Annamrita program is based on the belief that "you become what you eat." The nutritious meals this program serves daily encourages over a million children to attend school. One of their goals is to help every child in India get a full education by providing wholesome meals. They are currently serving 1.3 million meals daily from dozens of high-tech kitchens across 10 states.
Food for Life Global is an international non-profit charitable organization that provides plant-based foods in over 60 countries around the world, for mal-nourished people; people in disaster areas; wherever there is a need, they provide it. Food for Life Global was started, founded in 1974, so they are 40 years old. So I want to say, Happy birthday, congratulations. It’s great to see so much veggie food helping people out around the world, bringing people together in this fantastic way. Thank you, Food for Life Global for doing this. Thank you for all of you who work for Food for Life Global. We thank you. You do a great job. Happy birthday to you. Keep it going for another 40 years, 50, 60, keep it going. We love you. — Paul McCartney, London
“…while the Kremlin has been willing to spend trillions of rubles on its soldiers, only one Russian civic organization has come to Chechnya to provide emergency aid for its often homeless and sometimes starving compatriots – the Russian branch of FOOD FOR LIFE.” — Financial Times of London, London
“…here they [Food for Life] have a reputation like the one Mother Teresa has in Calcutta: it is not hard finding someone to swear they are saints.” — Michael Specter (Grozny Journal), The New York Times
"FOOD FOR LIFE is the real Reconstruction and Development Programme. The understanding that if I have a plate of food, let me share it with my neighbour . . . let those who are feeling sad come together with us, and together we can share this burden. This understanding should be taken from FOOD FOR LIFE and transmitted to the entire country." — Thabo Mbeki (Deputy President of South Africa), Durban
“… though it may not get top mention on the nightly news, FOOD FOR LIFE is among the world’s most intrepid relief organizations, in at least one case delivering food to a war-torn region after the Red Cross and other agencies gave up.” — Vegetarian Times, USA
"Another important building block for new democracy is the love and goodwill we show to each other. That is the spirit of Masakhane, of bringing one another together. It is also the spirit of today’s festival organized by Food for Life." — Nelson Mandela, Durban
“We don’t have education about how to eat. We are eating too much meat and people are getting sick with the time. We have to show to the people what they need to eat. The doors are open for Food for Life Global. We are going to work together to get better food for our kids into the schools.” — Jose “Pepe” Mujica, President of Uruguay
"I congratulate you for your fine achievements on behalf of the homeless….FOOD FOR LIFE’s success in providing housing, food, and social services has long attracted the attention of this office." — Arlen Specter (US Senate), USA
“In Bangalore, Jaipur and other cities, Akshaya Patra (FOOD FOR LIFE) meals are cooked in the most modern kitchens and good quality food is delivered to schools. Corporate bodies should also be involved in this process by creating public-private partnerships like Akshaya Patra.” – Comments by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee — Financial Express India, India
"The Australian Government recognizes the valuable work the Hare Krishnas are doing with their FOOD FOR LIFE program." — Eric Fitzgibbon MP (Australian Parliament), Australia
"Many people were in tears to see the efforts of the FFL volunteers. Many of those who received it commented that it was the “best food they have had in a long time, even before the hurricane hit!” — Susan Tydings Frushour (Red Cross), USA
“The Food for Life cooks have established themselves as the chief emergency feeding program in war-torn Chechnya.” — Moscow Tribune, Russia
“The fact the police and the Food for Life organization are looking to work together …… represents very positive policing.” — Police Gazette, QLD, Australia
"I pray that your FOOD FOR LIFE program will expand to bring about a peaceful world." — Salambek Hadjiev (Former Prime Minister of Chechnya), Chechnya
Food for Life Global
Food for Life Global (FFLG) was founded in 1995 in Maryland USA but closed it offices at the end of 2014. It re-established its offices in Slovenia where it continues to serve as the headquarters and coordinating office for all Food for Life projects worldwide. The organization is currently registered under the name: Humanitarno društvo FFL Global in Kamnik, Slovenia with registration number 4077911000 (matična številka), TAX ID Nr. 28209397 (davčna številka). It continues to have a presence in the United States through it strategic partner, A Well-Fed World.
- EUROPE: + 386 70 333 108
- USA: +1 202 407-9090
- AUSTRALIA: +61 2 8006 1081
FFLG aims & objectives
- To support plant-based (prasadam*) meal distribution to the disadvantaged, malnourished and victims of disaster (natural or manmade), wherever there is a need in the world.
- To help establish pure food prepared and served with loving intention as a viable means to create peace and unity in the world.
- To produce promotional and training materials for the development of Food for Life projects worldwide.
- To represent Food for Life to the government, media and public through public lectures, newspaper articles, the Internet, and through mail.
- To promote a food culture of hospitality based on spiritual equality
- To raise funds on behalf of Food for Life projects worldwide and to support them with grants
- To coordinate and sponsor emergency vegan relief efforts conducted by Food for Life volunteers
Some Food for Life programs have suffered severe criticism from ISKCON leaders and devotees who believe them to be a major deviation from Srila Prabhupada's original preaching mission by their promotion of so-called "mundane welfare activities". According to these opponents, Srila Prabhupada was strongly opposed to food distribution done without chanting of the names of Krsna and without preaching.
- About Food for Life Global
- European Vegetarian and Animal News Agency article: Interview with Paul Turner
- "New York Times - Food for Life Global - Uniting the World Through Pure Food". www.ffl.org. Archived from the original on 2010-11-20. Retrieved 2017-12-09.
- Network for Good
- History of Food for Life
- "Sarajevo 1994"
- New York Times, December 12, 1995 Archived June 16, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Summary of Katrina/Rita Relief". Retrieved July 6, 2011.
- "About Director". Archived from the original on 2015-05-29.
- DAS, Murari. "Mundane Welfare Work in ISKCON" (PDF).
- SWAMI, Jayadvaita. "Food for Death Seminar".
- SWAMI, Bhakti Vikasa. "Some Concerns About ISKCON lecture series".