The Hare Krishna Food for Life (FFL) Program is a global body that serves millions worldwide. Its affiliate, ISKCON Midrand Hare Krishna Food for Life, continues to make inroads as a local food relief network in the community of Midrand, located north of Johannesburg, South Africa.
Globally, the FFL Program has distributed pure vegetarian food to the world’s hungry, since its establishment in 1974. FFL is active in over 60 countries across the world, including South Africa – where the FFL Program is undertaken in affiliation with ISCKON centers throughout the country’s provinces.
In Midrand, for the past two years, the FFL Program has been growing from strength-to-strength, ensuring that it carries out the key objectives of the world’s largest vegetarian food relief programme.
This includes “distributing food to everyone indiscriminately, with no distinction as to race, creed, colour, religion, sex, community or nationality, both as a practical application of the ancient Vedic culture of hospitality, as well as to eradicate hunger and malnutrition by distributing food to the poor, underprivileged, homeless, distressed and disadvantaged”.
In understanding the importance of programmes, such as FFL in South Africa, it is important to grasp the fundamentals of a country challenged by economic and social inequality, poverty and unemployment.
A first-of-its-kind survey released in August 2013 – SA national health and nutrition examination survey – to assess the status of food security, that is access to food, food availability and food utilisation in South Africa, was compiled by a research consortium comprising the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the Medical Research Council, and was financed by the national Department of Health and the UK Department for International Development and HSRC.
It pointed out that 28.3% of South Africa’s population was at a risk of hunger and 26% experienced hunger (were food insecure).
“The largest percentage of participants who experienced hunger (food insecurity) was from urban informal (32.4%) and in rural formal (37%) localities. The highest rate of being at a risk of hunger was in the urban informal (36.1%) and rural informal (32.8%) areas. The lowest rate of hunger was reported in urban formal areas (19%).”
By province, the reports pointed to the rate of hunger lowest in the Western Cape (16.4%) and Gauteng (19.2%). This, it stated, is significantly lower than the rate of hunger in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo, which were the only two provinces with a hunger rate higher than 30%.
The report also stressed that the need for nutrition‐specific and nutrition‐sensitive interventions are needed to address the dual problems of chronic under-nutrition (stunting) and the rapidly rising trend of overweight and obesity among children in South Africa.
In light of these factors, and that millions of South Africans go to hungry each day, it remains critical not to just provide food, but provide nutritional food – which lies at the heart of FFL Program throughout the world, including the suburb of Midrand – one of the eight tourism nodes identified in the Johannesburg area and a bustling residential and commercial district.
Every month, 2 000 plates of fresh nutritious meals consisting of lentils, Basmati rice, fresh green beans, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and frozen peas are cooked and served to children in Ivory Park, Midrand.
Current recipients served by the FFL Program in Midrand, include the New Jerusalem Children’s Home, the Tumelo Home for the Mentally Handicapped, the Makeba Centre for Girls and the Thuthakani Centre – all located in Ivory Park, a township challenged by a lack of services, housing shortages, poverty and hunger.
However, in light of these challenges, these four homes and its committed staff, continue to endeavour to serve to the best of their ability the children to which they provide care.
Anna Majapelo, founder of the New Jerusalem Children's Home, which provides residential care to 80 orphaned and vulnerable children, explains that the children look forward to the FFL Program and the commitment from its volunteers, who not only feed the children monthly, but “bring joy and laughter” to the children through their association and engagement.
“There is a lot of healing, purification and happiness that transcends the home with the arrival of the volunteers of FFL. Although in affiliation with ISCKON Midrand, we embrace diversity and the work undertaken by different religious groups that embrace the cause of ‘humanity’ – their overall aim being to help and feed our children,” Majapelo asserts.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Tumelo Home’s care worker Masello Ramakwela and Jane Nkosi, founder of the Thuthukani Centre.
“The food is tasty, hot, healthy and freshly cooked. FFL, in affiliation with ISKCON Midrand, continue to make our children happy, and we wish to continue to enjoy their support,” says Ramakwela.
The Tumelo Home for the Mental Handicapped was established in 1996, and is the home for mentally and physical handicapped children of whom about 75% were abandoned, orphaned or abused at home.
Nkosi, who explains that the Thuthukani Centre was established in 2003 and caters for about 345 orphans and vulnerable children aged between two and 18 years, says the FFL Program is a much welcomed initiative, particularly benefiting its children.
The Makeba Centre for Girls is home to girls between the ages of 11 and 18. It was founded in 2003 by Miriam Makeba, the world-renowned musical diva. Through the centre, sanctuary is provided for girls who have been destitute and/or abused, and have been removed from their circumstances through a court process. Centre manager, Elaine Britton says about ISKCON Midrand Hare Krishna Food for Life: “We are very grateful for the continued support – without dictation – especially in this era that we live in, this initiative is commendable.”
ISKCON Midrand’s chairperson, His Grace Nrsimhananda Dasa (Nrsinga Dasa) says that the FFL Program will continue its efforts to make Midrand a hunger-free zone. “In our efforts to drive our vision of ensuring that ‘hunger cannot be postponed’, we implore the community, business and other important stakeholders to partner with us or make a contribution to alleviate hunger in Midrand.”
One of the key partners with the FFL Programme initiative [Midrand] is the San Ridge Square-based Pick ‘n Pay, located on the corner of New and Lever roads.
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If you, your organisation or business would like to team up or contribute to making Midrand a “hunger-free zone”, speak to the Midrand-based FFL Program volunteers stationed every Saturday at the Carlswold Lifestyle Centre, at the corner of Main and Lever Roads, in Midrand.
Alternatively, contributions can be made directly to FFL – for more information contact Nrsinga Dasa on 083-551-1550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org ] [ food ] [ food-for-life ] [ life ]