Food for Life Global’s principal affiliate, the Annamrita program, founded by ISKCON Food Relief Foundation (IFRF), believes in providing children with the right nutrition to support their education. IFRF’s Annamrita program is based on the belief that ‘you become what you eat’. The nutritious meals this program serves daily encourages over a million children to attend school.
One of their goals is to help every child in India get a full education by providing wholesome meals. They are currently serving 1.2 million meals daily from 24 high-tech kitchens across 10 states.
The Midday Meal Scheme was initiated by the Indian government and IFRF’s Annamrita service is a major partner setting the standard for quality community service.
Annamrita means “food as pure as nectar.” Poverty and hunger in India are epidemic, with a majority of the population unable to get even one nutritious meal a day. The major factor behind this social calamity is a vicious circle of poverty and illiteracy that has gripped India for decades.
Annamrita has resolved to liberate the underprivileged from this vicious cycle by serving children with the purist plant-based meals. The meals are not only strictly plant-based but are also imbued with the spiritual ambiance of annamrita’s hi-tech, super hygienic kitchen. They believe such pure food will nourish the mind, body and soul.
The hot meal is prepared with the highest standards of hygiene and quality ingredients that meet the nutritional requirements of growing children. But most importantly, IFRF mixes a secret ingredient to the vegetable stew (kichdi) it serves – love, devotion, and compassion that adds an unparallel taste of purity to the meal.
That’s right, the Annamrita project is run so efficiently that they are able to serve a hot nourishing meal for as little as 10 cents on average. That means, for every $100 donated, 1000 meals can be served. To put that in perspective, this same donation would enable Annamrita to feed 5 school children for an entire year! A donation of around $1500 will feed 100 children for an entire year! No other non-profit feeding program can claim such efficiency and quality.
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In 1863, Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach (a German philosopher) wrote, “Man is what he eats”. He was stating that the food one eats has a bearing on one’s state of mind and health. At ISKCON Food Relief Foundation too, we believe that the intake of food not only grants Man his material survival but also offers him values of culture and of partaking in the divine, for which he strives in his innermost self. In our culture too, food and feeding have always been an inherent part. In the village life of ancient India, the householders, or grihastha, saw themselves as food providers for all living beings, including animals. Not even a rat or a snake would go without food during the pinnacle of Vedic civilization in India.
The Vedas enunciated the duty of a householder as Bhunjate te tv agham papa ye pacanti. Meaning those who are cooking for themselves, they are simply eating sinful things….Bhunjate te tv agham papa ye pacanty atma-karanat… conveys that hospitality is one of the duties of the householder.
The genesis of ISKCON Food Relief Foundation’s purpose dates back to 1974 when Srila Prabhupada was looking out from his room at an ISKCON temple in Mayapur (West Bengal). 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, “No one within a ten-mile radius of our temples should go hungry”.
When the Government of India launched a strategic program in 1994 called the Midday Meal Scheme to fight two of the most pressing problems of India – hunger and illiteracy, ISKCON Food Relief Foundation saw a great opportunity for providing children with the right nutrition to support their education. The Midday Meal Project is being implemented by ISKCON Food Relief Foundation under the name of ‘annamrita’ meaning food as pure as nectar.
The first thing that comes to mind, when you think of nutritious food, is what a mother serves her child, and that’s what annamrita stands for.
We strive to serve food to children, with the same love and devotion that otherwise their mother would have provided. Imbued with a spiritual ambiance in our hi-tech kitchens, the khichdi prepared satisfies and nourishes, not just on the physical level but also on a spiritual level. The only meal that is truly satiating is the one that feeds the stomach, mind, and soul alike.
At annamrita, we provide the child that important one meal of the day which not only feeds his stomach but also feeds his soul with the zeal to achieve his full potential. A majority of the population in India is still unable to get at least one complete square meal for the day, only because they are stuck in the vicious circle of poverty and illiteracy. Annamrita has resolved to liberate the underprivileged from this vicious cycle by serving children with sanctified and nutritious food.
We aim to provide the children with satvik meals to help them with the right nutrition in their formative years. Food for Life Annamrita is currently serving over 1,200,000 children every day. We believe success on that scale will offer a model of replication by other developmental organizations and State Governments across India.
To many, annamrita is the sole source to their only complete meal that they have access to during the entire day. This has produced dramatic results in terms of increased enrollment at schools, retained attendance levels, reduced dropout rates and attention spans. We sincerely seek your support in reaching out the annamrita program to more and more children.