ART-0703 Charity, Food for Life

Food for Life
Vegetarian Food-Relief

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Food for Life is a unique project for bringing food and life to the needy of the world through the liberal distribution of karma-free vegetarian meals. The project started in 1974 when an elderly Indian swami, Srila Prabhupada, asked his followers to not allow anyone within a ten mile radius of the temple to go hungry. The program grew quickly and now operates in over 60 countries worldwide.


Hare Krishna Food for Life is a registered nonprofit charitable organization established to bring peace and prosperity to the world through the liberal distribution of sanctified vegetarian meals.

30,000 meals daily

Food for Life’s volunteers serve more than 30,000 free vegetarian meals daily from their many free food restaurants, mobile kitchens, and emergency services. It is the largest vegetarian/vegan food relief in the world. Up to 60% of the meals are strictly vegans.

Key Facts

Countries: 60 countries on six continents.

Staff: 1000 Volunteers worldwide.

Beneficiaries: 100 Million meals served worldwide (1974 – 2000)

Programs: 170 (Free Food kitchens, Home Delivery, Mobile kitchens, School Services and Disaster Relief).

Community based

Food for Life is the humanitarian service of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), a branch of Vaishnava Hinduism, otherwise known as the Hare Krishna movement. Although Food for Life’s volunteer staff is primarily made up of Krishna devotees, up to 30% of the volunteers come from the greater community.

Legal Status

FOOD FOR LIFE Global is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization registered in the State of Maryland, USA. Food for Life Global is the international headquarters for  Hare Krishna Food for Life – the world’s largest vegan/vegetarian food relief. Food for Life Global is funded mainly by member donations.


The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) is doing its part to combat world hunger by providing free meals to the needy. For the past two decades, ISKCON’s “Hare Krishna Food for Life” program has served more than 90 million hot, nutritious vegetarian meals throughout America, Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe.

The meticulous preparation and vast distribution of prasada (sanctified vegetarian food) has always been an essential part of India’s ancient Vedic culture. A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (Srila Prabhupada), founder of ISKCON, began the “Food for Life” project on a large scale when he stated “No one within 10 miles of our temples should go hungry.”

“ISKCON is trying to benefit people of the world who are less fortunate than us,” said Australian born Priyavrata Das, international director of the Food for Life program. “Too much grief and despair in the world is caused by hunger. Therefore, Krishna devotees are dedicated to preparing healthy, sanctified, vegetarian foods knowing that it will bring people hope.”

In 1966, Srila Prabhupada began the Krishna’s famous “Sunday Feasts” at ISKCON’s fledgling Second Avenue temple in New York. The elderly swami personally helped cook and serve the feasts. Word of this delicious, free 10-course meal spread quickly, and It soon was attended by 300-400 people each week

In the 1970’s, ISKCON expanded its vision of prasada distribution and developed the Hare Krishna Food For Life program to target food distribution to the less fortunate. In many cities special food distribution vehicles were purchased and daily delivery routes to low-income areas began. Today, the program distributes tens of thousands of free meals everyday to needy people of St. Petersburg, Durban, Sydney, London, Bombay and over 150 other cities worldwide.

In 1974, Srila Prabhupada was looking out from his room at ISKCON’s temple in Mayapur (West Bengal), when he noticed a group of village children fighting with street dogs over scraps of food. Shocked and saddened by what he saw, Srila Prabhupada turned to his disciples and said, “Imagine how hungry they are…. “God is the Father. Wherever there is the Father, the children should not be hungry? A temple therefore means: free food distribution…. “No one within a ten mile radius of our temples should go hungry…. “I want you to begin distributing food immediately.” These prophetic words rang loudly, inspiring his followers to expand that original program into a global network of free food kitchens, cafes, vans, and emergency services. Hare Krishna Food for Life has emerged as the world’s largest vegetarian/vegan food-relief program with thousands of volunteers working in over 60 countries.

In Durban, South Africa, Food for Life hosted the world’s largest gathering of school children for a free picnic! President Mandella was the special guest at the “Festival for the children of the Rainbow Nation held at the Durban Sports arena on April 23. He later told reporters that it was “his happiest day. “More than 40,000 picnic lunches were served

To date, more than 85 million free meals have been served since 1974—but these are not ordinary meals—all food is first sanctified to provide  complete nourishment for body and soul. Food for Life is proud to say that it provides the most “complete” welfare service

ISKCON members also implement food relief programs in times of natural disasters. For instance, in 1993 an earthquake devastated Latur, India. Krishna devotees from ISKCON’s Bombay temple drove three hundred kilometers to be on the scene within hours supplying 52,000 meals, as well as clothing and medical supplies to distressed villagers.

Many Food for Life volunteers have risked their lives working in war zones. For example, ISKCON devotees in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzagovina visited orphanages, homes for the elderly, hospitals, institutes for handicapped children, and basement shelters daily, throughout the three year conflict. An estimated 20 tons of food has been distributed in Sarajevo since 1992.

Without doubt, Food for Life’s most valiant efforts were realized during the recent conflict in Grozny. Since March 1995, Food  for Life has been at work in Chechnya. A New York Times article, titled: “Krishnas Cast Bread on Roiling Waters in Russia” (December 12, 1995) stated that, Here, they have a reputation like the one that Mother Teresa has in Calcutta: it’s not hard finding people to swear they are saints.”

Aims of Food for Life

Welfare: To eradicate hunger and malnutrition by providing free vegetarian meals to the disadvantaged, and victims of disaster (natural or manmade), wherever there is a need in the world.

Health: To establish Food for Life Health Education centers throughout the world. These centers will provide free or inexpensive vegetarian meals, counseling, health education, and living skills training to those in need.

Youth Development: To establish Rural Academies  for Youth (“Krishna’s R.A.Y. of Hope”), whereby people from the ages of 16-25 are trained in bhakti yoga, cow protection, and sustainable agriculture, centered around spiritual values.

Hospitality: To revive the ancient Vedic culture of  hospitality, and to teach people by example, that there is spiritual equality among all beings.

Disaster Relief

  • Grozny, Chechnya — More than 1,000,000 served. Food for Life was the only NGO providing hot meals.
  • Sarajevo, Bosnia — 100,000 loaves of bread distributed throughout the 3 year conflict.
  • Latur, India — Food for Life provided hot food and clothing for the survivors of the 1994 earthquake that devastated this town, killing 20,000.
  • Mayapura, India — Massive floods left 20,000  homeless. Food for Life brought 70 tons of vegetable stew by boat to stranded villagers.
  • Serbia/Kosovo — Thousands of meals were served during the war.
  • Nicaragua — After a massive hurricane devastated the most of Central America, Food for Life set up a free food kitchen and served tens of thousands of homeless people.
  • Orissa – India — More than 1,000,000 hot meals served in the 2 months after the largest cyclone in recent history devastated India’s poorest state.

Food for Life, UK.

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