World’s largest vegetarian food relief
Food For Life Global, the world’s largest vegetarian and vegan food relief organization, has made a name for itself within the vegetarian community and among international relief agencies. With operations spanning 50 countries, the charity has served more than 100 million freshly cooked vegetarian meals throughout America, Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe. “Every second of the day, FFL is serving a needy person in the world through its free food restaurants, mobile kitchens, school programs and emergency services,” explains its Australian director, Paul Turner.
The project was founded in 1974 after an elderly Indian swami, Srila Prabhupada, asked his yoga students to not allow anyone within a ten mile radius of his temple to go hungry.
Prabhupada, also the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, encouraged other Hare Krishna temples to participate in the distribution of free food.
Today, the worldwide scope of FFL’s service is remarkable, with volunteers distributing meals everywhere, including war zones and disaster areas – most recently, the Dec. 26 tsunami that battered the coasts of Southeast Asia. Immediately after the waves hit, FFL was on the scene distributing food to stranded survivors in Chennai, India. Soon after, five more operations were set up in Sri Lanka where 250,000 hot vegetarian meals were cooked and served to tsunami survivors. The meals consisted of rice, dhal, soy chunks and a variety of vegetables – a balanced serving no other relief organization was offering. “Many people told us they could not eat some of the dried rations being handed out by other agencies,” said Turner. “They really appreciated our food. We had local people help us to make the meals the way people like it here – hot, tasty and plenty of chillies!”
Turner, who directs FFL Global from its headquarters in Washington, D.C., traveled to Sri Lanka to coordinate relief efforts and to oversee the donations collected by his office.
“I wanted to be there first hand to see the devastation and to make sure we were doing all we could for the tsunami victims. It was important for me to personally lend a hand.”
FFL supports tsunami orphans and needy children
As FFL begins to wind down its emergency relief programs in Sri Lanka, its impact on those rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of the tsunami will continue. FFL’s new focus will be the children orphaned by the disaster. A new project to provide a mid day meal to children in tsunami-affected schools is being launched, with the full support of Sri Lanka’s President, Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. Another project, called Gokulam – Bhaktivedanta Children’s Home, will take in 100 tsunami orphans and other needy children, providing three nutritious vegetarian meals a day, along with a full education, music, art, yoga and healthcare.
By far, FFL’s largest food relief operation is located in Bangalore, India. Known locally as Akshaya Patra or “Unlimited Pot,” the Mid-Day Meal program serves a vegetarian lunch to more than 60,000 children in 258 rural schools every day. Akshaya Patra addresses the two biggest challenges for India’s youth: hunger and education. Many studies have found a direct link between malnutrition and a lapse in cognitive ability. “This program will give the poorer children a healthy foundation to help them achieve their best, explained Turner.” FFL will pilot the new project to a tsunami-affected school of 600 children in March.
Uniting the world through food
Although FFL represents the humanitarian wing of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, it is firmly grounded in its belief of equality for all beings -- providing services to all cultures and to people of all religious backgrounds. In fact, even the many thousands of volunteers that participate in FFL projects, come from diverse experiences and faiths. “Our motto is to ‘Unite the world through food,’” says Turner. “We welcome all concerned citizens of the world to join us in this charitable vegetarian work.”
For more information about Food For Life and its worldwide programs, please visit www.ffl.org
Please contact Sara@ffl.org for more information.