During an especially challenging holiday season, the Food For Life Foundation in Hungary is bringing some care and support with its Christmas Love Feast prasadam distribution effort, from December 8th to 27th.
In previous years, Food For Life would hold a massive event in the capital city of Budapest, giving out thousands of meals over three days. However this year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers are instead distributing food at over twenty different outdoor locations to smaller numbers of people at each one, facilitating social distancing and keeping everyone safe.
The twenty full-time Food For Life devotee staff and several daily volunteers also wear masks and gloves while serving out prasadam.
Locations include five different spots in Budapest, as well as many small villages throughout the countryside, all organized in cooperation with the local government social services.
“We plan to distribute 6,500 food packages and portions of prasadam this Christmas,” says ISKCON Hungary Spokesperson Gandharvika Prema Dasi.
Food For Life serves out hot food including vegetarian versions of traditional Hungarian dishes often prepared for Christmas, such as goulash made from beans, peppers, paprika and soy; and Székelykáposzta, a pickled cabbage dish with rice.
As well as the hot prasadam, which is served into containers for recipients to take home, Food For Life volunteers hand out packages of canned goods, flour, sugar, oil, fruits and vegetables, and snacks and treats for the children.
Those most in need receive the food, such as large families, single parent families, those who cannot work due to being affected by illness, and pensioners in their late seventies or eighties who live alone and struggle to pay their rent and utilities from their pension.
Food For Life also delivers containers of prasadam and pre-packaged goods to twelve different shelters and healthcare centers for the homeless, feeding 600 people every day.
Each container carries a sticker wishing recipients a Merry Christmas along with a holiday message expressing sentiments such as, “You are loved, and we will take care of you.”
“Although we are giving them common dishes that they would eat on Christmas and in their everyday life, people can feel that it is something different,” Gandharvika Prema says. “They are addicted to our food.”
After one visit to a small village, the Mayor called Food For Life volunteers, saying, “The locals are asking when you’re coming back – they remember your food, and want to taste it again.”
“During the pandemic, many have told us that they pray for us to stay healthy, because if we were not there for them, they don’t know how they could survive,” says Gandharvika Prema.
“Christmas spirit” is often defined as a mood of giving, hope, good cheer, love, understanding, and goodwill; and Food For Life certainly seem to be embodying that spirit this holiday season.
[ food-distribution ] [ food-for-life ] [ hungary ]