6,000 plates of hot meal and 32 tons of food packages, warm cloths and toys were distributed by Hungarian Krishna devotees over the Christmas holidays. Many political leaders, well-known public figures, sportsmen and artists joined them as volunteers in helping their efforts to care for underprivileged families.
The Food for Life program of the Hungarian Society for Krishna Consciousness has been distributing free food to underprivileged people every day for over twenty years.
In December, due the cold weather and the winter holidays, there is always an increased need for hot food and care, which makes ISKCON Hungary’s charity program coordinators, cooks and volunteers especially busy.
The end of the long, winding queu leading up to the tents with free food
On December 24th, the first day of the Christmas holidays, there are about 2,000 people lining up on one of the busiest squares and streets of Hungary’s capital city Budapest, waiting for the Krishna devotees to start the food distribution at noon. Not wanting to miss the only chance to put food on their family’s holiday table, some of them have been waiting there with their children since 6 AM.
A child in the line waiting for food (a photo by Judit Marjai).
The organizers gave out hand bands with numbers on them to make sure the early-risers would get served first and the queue order kept. Under a big long tent they have installed two long lines of tables, which, later in the morning, when the five trucks arrived got packed with hot cabbage stew, bread, tea, biscuits, as well as 24 other different food items to take home: fresh fruits, yoghurt, chocolate, lentils, plenty of pasta, rice, flour, sunflower oil, canned vegetables and other ingredients to cook from for families for many days to come.
Another face of povrety
Ildiko with her three children has been standing in line since 8 AM. She says - “I have been coming here every year. Me and my kids love the hot Krishna lunch, but what I appreciate even more is the food that I can take home and cook from. Without this help, during the winter school recess my kids would not be able to eat cooked food as all the money that I make barely enough to pay the utilities.”
This is their Christmas lunch
At 11 AM the bulk of volunteers arrives. About a hundred of them -- besides Krishna-devotees, members of parliament, singers, musicians, award-winning conductors, sportsmen and an entire junior water polo team – now they all put on Food for Life aprons and assume their position behind the tables.
At noon the distribution starts. The people are greeted by smiling and welcoming volunteers and a soft Krishna-bhajan at the entrance of the tent. As they go along the lines of tables their bags starts to fill up with food, and their hearts with joy. They often express their appreciation about what they receive and bless the volunteers.
A helping boy from the junior water polo team
The distribution is going on for hours -- it is well-organized and quite orderly. The only place where there is tumult is at the end of the tables, at the toy trunk – people who have nothing else to put under the Christmas tree for their kids get a little too eager to put their hands on a doll, a shaker, a drum, a toy car or a teddy bear.
A child with a toy she just received
ISKCON Hungary’s Christmas Food for Life program is going on for three days, December 24-25-26th. Altogether, the Krishna devotees prepare, cook and distribute 6,000 plates of sanctified vegetarian lunch and 32 tons of food items with great care and love. They also send out hundreds of food packages to people who live far away from distribution points.
A plate of hot lunch and a bagful of food mean a lot to those living under hars conditions
In 2013, ISKCON Hungary has distributed about 500,000 plates of hot meal and hundreds of tons other food items. In 2014, they are planning to increase their services, with a special emphasis on helping children living in underprivileged families.
ISKCON Hungary's leader Sivarama Swami presents free Bhagavad-gitas to everyone interested in spiritual topics during the Christmas charity programs.[ book-distribution ] [ budapest ] [ charity ] [ christmas ] [ food ] [ food-for-life ] [ hungary ] [ life ]