Food for Life in London, an initiative from London’s Radha-Krishna Temple, has been feeding hot meals to the homeless for over 20 years, and in 2017 expanded its usual Monday to Thursday offering to include Fridays and Saturdays. Its incredible efforts were officially recognised in December 2017 when the chief organiser of the London-based service, Acyuta Charan dasa (Asish Soni), was honoured with a British Empire Medal (BEM) for voluntary and charitable services to homeless people. The BEM is awarded for a “hands-on” service to the local community, either a long-term voluntary or charitable activity, or innovative work of a relatively short duration that has made a significant difference.
Based out of the Temple located in Soho Street in Central London, the London Food for Life initiative runs with a team of dedicated volunteers. Not only a heart-warming cause but loaded with delicious food, the Food for Life van sets off to Lincolns Inns Field in Holborn and arrives at 7.00pm to greet the queue of hungry people eagerly waiting to be served. They are drawn to the tasty and filling khichdi accompanied with mouth-watering cake, salad and a hot drink. Needless to say, those in the queue for the food are full of praise for the cooks. The meals are freshly prepared daily by the kitchen staff at Govinda's Restaurant, the Temple’s pure vegetarian restaurant, and the oldest vegetarian restaurant in London. The volunteers distribute the meals with a smile and greet receivers with “Hare Krishna” sharing selfless love and service.
Acyuta Charan dasa will be proudly accepting his BEM award later this year at a grand event presented by a representative of the Queen of England. He shares, "I wasn’t expecting it at all, a few colleagues put me forward for it. This award should really go to all the wonderful volunteers who make Food for Life possible. They sacrifice their precious time to come and distribute to the needy. Each week is a delightful experience. It has been a privilege to be a part of this service for over 10 years."
Acyuta Charan dasa is a civil servant and works as a qualified accountant for the Home Office in Croydon. He got involved with the Hare Krishna movement in his final year of university. Later in 2007, his wife, Krishna Kanta devi dasi, introduced him to the Food For Life project and he started volunteering. He continues to volunteer now with his wife and is joined sometimes by their three-year old twin girls.
Pritesh Mashru from West London recently volunteered with the group after searching online for a vegetarian soup kitchen. He says, “The first evening I joined in with the great cause it was my birthday and I wanted to give back something to others. I was captivated by the enthusiasm of the volunteers giving up their Friday evenings for those less privileged. Seeing the group of people who had gathered at the square to receive a plate of hot food was an overwhelming experience and it was wonderful to be able to lift their spirits. The volunteers carried out the tasks so swiftly and with so much care to ensure nobody left the square without something to eat. I was so impressed with the service that I set up a group of helpers from my workplace to ensure someone was always available to help out especially on busy Friday evenings. It was very satisfying serving over Christmas and spreading some joy to those who have so little. We even distributed scarves and hats, which were so much needed. I can’t wait to go along next week and see what new helpers I might meet and who I can greet at the square. Helping with Food for Life is my small way of giving back to the country that has given me so much.”
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If anyone is inspired to distribute delicious free food to hungry souls in London, they can contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the kitchen at Govinda’s Restaurant (10 Soho Street, London W1D 3DL) from Monday to Saturday at 6.00pm. Food is taken and distributed at Lincolns Inn Fields in Holborn at 7.00pm.
Alternatively if you would like to donate towards Food for Life, you can do so here: www.iskcon.london/donate/ffl[ charity ] [ food-distribution ] [ london ]