Today, I want to share a summary of my journey with Food for Life Global.
I started my career with Food for Life as a young monk in Sydney. I was 20 years-old when I got started and was one of the early pioneers of the project in the 80s in Australia. My big contribution back then was to demonstrate how effectively FFL was as a communications tool to inspire all kinds of people to participate in this service and assimilate its message of equality. I took a lead role in developing Food for Life in Australia and in 1991, I managed the celebration of the serving of the 2-millionth free meal in Sydney, where Clover Moore cut the cake.
I launched the Food for Life International newsletter, writing it on my Mac+ computer, cutting and pasting photos, reproducing it on a copy machine, stapling pages together and then sending the newsletter out to volunteers all around the world with my own money.
In 1993, I left Australia as a monk and started lecturing and training others to start their own FFL project in Eastern Europe and Asia. During one travel stint I visited 44 cities in Eastern Europe in 2 months, lecturing morning and evening.
in 1994, I settled in the US to establish the first-ever headquarters for what was then a grassroots operations in about 10 countries.
Food for Life Global was originally founded by myself and my mentor, Mukunda Goswami in 1994 and registered as a 501c3 in 1995 in Potomac, MD.
One of the first things I did was build a website in 1995, way before most larger companies had a presence on the web. Sadly, there are no records of that very early website but there are from as early as 1998 on the Wayback Machine.
At the end of 2010, I migrated back to Australia and at the end of 2014, we decided that it would be best to run the global office from Slovenia since most of our staff were now spread around the world and Slovenia offered the best opportunity for a virtual headquarters.
For most of our history, we’ve tried to operate mostly online to reduce costs so that we could maximize every dollar you donate to the charity work. You may be interested to learn that from 1994 until 2018 I have mostly performed my service to Food for Life Global as a volunteer and my total wages during those 24 years would average out to about $200 a month.
Throughout this period, Food for Life Global was actively supporting and/or managing responses to some of the world’s greatest natural disasters.
A More Holistic Vision
In 2014, I also moved to Colombia, South America to be with my wife and her animal sanctuary.
An important distinction that sets Food for Life Global apart from other food relief services is our strong belief that the only way to solve world hunger is to address the root cause. For other food relief services, this means trying to be more efficient in distributing meals, or it means increasing the numbers of meals. However, for FFLG it means teaching through actions that every human on this planet is spiritually equal, thus we instituted the tagline: Uniting the World Through Pure Food. Once this understanding is firmly established, social issues like hunger can disappear overnight. As it turns out, FFLGs network of 210 affiliates serves more meals than any other agency in the world, including the World Food Programme. As of today, the network has distributed 4.8 Billion meals!
In our passion to push this solution, we forgot to give equal importance to animals. This was solved soon after I met my wife and got involved in her project. Her mission was to teach equality for all beings and so Juliana’s Animal Sanctuary became the first sanctuary to be affiliated with FFLG. We had already included cow protection projects as part of the FFLG family of affiliates but this was the first time we were including all animals as part of FFLG’s extended mission to promote equality. It was a beautiful and natural synergy and I am forever grateful to her and count my blessings every day to be able to serve her rescued cows.
It’s also important to note that my wife, Juliana is the regional coordinator for FFLG and has been directly involved in setting up new programs in South America, including responding to recent disasters in Ecuador, Colombia, and Chile.
In 2014, we also got the endorsement of Paul McCartney, who praised the work of the volunteers over the 40-years of FFL’s history dating back to 1974 in a village in India.
In 2014, my wife and I got to cook a vegan lunch for the most popular president in the world, Jose “Pepe” Mujica.
At the end of 2017, we came to realize that we needed to establish regional offices to support our regional representatives.
In pursuit of this new direction, we recently re-established our presence in the US as Food for Life Global – Americas (FFLGA). This office will focus on the Americas (Canada, USA, Central and South America) and our Slovenian office will now focus on the Western European region.
FFLGA is in the process of acquiring its 501c3 status but in the meantime, any donations to FFLGA will still be tax deductible in 2019.
Our future plans are to open regional offices for Australasia, Eastern Europe, Russia, China, and Africa – Middle East.
If you’re interested in helping us establish these other regional offices to provide support and guidance to those regions, please contact us now.
If you’d like to support our new office in the US and help us continue to expand this noble mission, please donate to our new FFLG – Americas account.
Thank you for sticking with me all these years. It has been my pleasure to serve you in this mission to unite the world through pure food and I will continue to do so until my very last breath.