Hare Krishna Food for Life
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Hare Krishna Food for Life is the world's largest vegan and vegetarian non-profit food relief organization with projects in over 60 countries. Volunteers serve more than 1,500,000 free meals daily in a variety of ways, including: food vans serving to the homeless within major cities around the world; lunch time meals for poor school children throughout India; and also in response to large natural disasters, such as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.
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 and the International Rescue Committee and Typhoon Haiyan, 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. 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.
Food For Life volunteers have provided food for the poor and homeless during several recent disasters.
- 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 750 million 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.
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.
Food for Life Global
Food for Life Global (FFLG) website, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization established in 1996 and registered in the State of Maryland, is the international headquarters for all Food for Life charitable activities. It is directed by Paul Rodney Turner, also known as Priya Vrata the Food Yogi (FOOD YOGA website). In order to position itself as completely non-sectarian, the organisation registered independently from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness ISKCON. The non profit has numerous affiliates that are not connected with the Hare Krishna movement. FFLG overall mission is to create peace and prosperity in the world through the liberal distribution of pure food prepared with loving intention. To achieve that end, the organisation strives to collaborate with other NGOs that are in line with the core beliefs of Food for Life. The managerial role of FFLG is providing organizational and operating support to Food for Life projects through activities such as:
- coordinating and sponsoring emergency relief
- teaching the public about Food Yoga site
- publishing a Food for Life Global newsletter
- providing small grants to FFL affiliates
- producing training material for Food for Life volunteers downloads
- maintaining the Food for Life website website
- producing promotional materials – videos, music CDs, media kits, posters, etc.
- conducting training seminars
- representing Food for Life at health conferences
Food for Life Global is funded by private donations, foundations, and corporate and government grants. With the support of its members and corporate sponsors, Food for Life Global seeks to maintain and expand its current programs to feed the world’s hungry and fight poverty by promoting health, education and sustainability.
ISKCON Food Relief Foundation
The ISKCON Food Relief Foundation (IFRF), also known as Annamrta, is a Food For Life organisation that operates in India. Annamrta operates the Mid-Day Meal programme, providing hot, fresh meals free of charge to children in school.