In 1974, A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, shocked and saddened upon seeing a group of village children in Mayapur (near Kolkata) fighting with street dogs over scraps of food, told his disciples: “No one within ten miles of a temple should go hungry . . . I want you to immediately begin serving food.” Heeding to Prabhupada plea, ISKCON devotees around the world were inspired to expand that original effort into a global network.
In the 1970’s, ISKCON expanded its vision of prasad distribution and developed the 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.
It is currently the world’s largest vegetarian food-relief operation, being active in over 60 countries across the globe. ‘Food for Life’ serves only Krishna ‘prasadam’ (purely vegetarian foodstuffs, spiritualised by offering to the Lord) which, having been offered to Krishna, gain a unique flavour which satisfies the palate and nourishes the body – as well as purifying the soul, giving eternal spiritual benefit beyond an ordinary food relief operation.
‘Food for Life ‘ serve meals daily in cities across the world, and also have provided relief in many emergency situations such as earthquakes in Armenia and India, the war-zones of Grozny and Sarajevo, floods in West Bengal, and tornadoes in the United States.
The problem of starvation isn’t one of nature’s supply, but one of fair distribution of foodstuffs and land usage. The meat industry constitutes a large part of the problem, as meat takes 12 times more resources to produce than a vegetarian based diet. Land which otherwise could be utilised for producing grains, is destroyed with cattle ranches to cater to today’s fast-food outlets, which in turn cause health and environment problems. The slaughter of animals and destruction of environments produces reactions which society is suffering from, but ‘Food for Life’ provides a spiritual solution alleviating karmic reactions, a healthier and more practical diet, and immediate relief to people suffering from modern society’s abuse of nature.