FFL Volunteer Coordinator and a little background on Food for Life Global
By Priyavrata das
As with the last big tsunami, Food for Life Global has gotten a “flood” of volunteer applications for the relief work in Japan. Quite simply, there are too many people to engage in this current opportunity. However, some of the applicants are very qualified professionals that could be used to do all kinds of service for FFL affiliates and ISKCON projects if they were properly guided. I am therefore in need of an experienced devotee with excellent communication skills who believes they could help coordinate/direct/guide these volunteers to appropriate service opportunities within the larger family of ISKCON.
It is important to note that these people are not coming to join ISKCON, but are merely interested in helping Food for Life Global in one way or another. If this confuses you then you’re not the right person for the job.
Krishna states in the Bhagavad-gita that if one cannot follow all the regulations then they should just try to “work for Me.” Volunteering for a project directly related to the sankirtan mission is the same as working for Krishna.
Food for Life Global (FFLG) is the headquarters for Food for Life projects and all things related to the Vedic culture of hospitality. That means, all FREE prasadam distribution projects and anything else connected to the Vedic food culture all fall under the umbrella of Food for Life Global, including organic farms, sustainability projects, etc., and of course even more diverse endeavours like the Sandipani Muni School projects in Vrindavan. Let me be clear, however, that FFLG is not micromanaging anyone; we are here to serve these projects through raising awareness, guidance and funding when possible.
One of the principle roles Food for Life Global has played over the years is to bring all these isolated projects together within the context of a socially-responsible, non-sectarian movement. You could say that we are “repackaging the sankirtan movement,” just as Prabhupada encouraged in a letter to Pancaratna:
“The world is most sorely in need of education in Krishna consciousness, but due to the ignorance of the age they are not
interested in knowledge of the self. So if by labeling the bottle in some way more to attract them we are still able to teach Krishna consciousness, let us do it (Letter to Pancaratna, 2nd May, 1974).
Sometimes there is the accusation that Food for Life is not a frontline preaching program, but rather a public relations exercise. They believe that because ISKCON is a preaching movement, it is not important what people think about us so long as we are preaching knowledge of Krishna. However, Srila Prabhupada cared very much about public opinion.
In a letter to Rupanuga (January 9, 1975), he wrote: “…Somehow or other we should not become unpopular in the public eye. These dishonest methods must be stopped. It is hampering our reputation all over the world.”
Of course we should not draw from this statement that Krishna consciousness needs to be “watered down” to suit public opinion, but rather, when the time, place and circumstance permit, we should preach boldly—”as it is.”
Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to grasp the full value of the Krishna consciousness philosophy. Most people hardly get past the, “Iam-not-this-body stage.” Most people eat meat and therefore, most people are very ignorant. Programs like Hare Krishna Food for Life are essential for dispelling such ignorance, by providing a bridge for communication and a foundation for building a reputation that can lead to genuine faith in Krishna.
My experience with the Food for Life program is that it does indeed assist the spreading of Krishna consciousness, and that it is not a shallow “PR exercise”. Food for Life, if developed successfully and creatively, can introduce all the essential teachings of the Vedas and Vedic culture. Unfortunately, Food for Life is rarely seen in this light and thus is often not developed to its full potential. One of the aims of Food for Life Global is to firmly establish Food for Life as a powerful medium for communicating Krishna consciousness teachings in action.
FFLG has never denied it’s connection with ISKCON, as is evident in our endorsement of the ISKCON Food Relief Foundation and their midday meal programs. However, in the interest of remaining non-sectarian, we have also not used FFLG to promote ISKCON, but rather focused on the principles that ISKCON stands for. No doubt we’ve sometimes walked a tight line, but we can declare with all honesty that we have never compromised the integrity of Food for Life whose main mission is the expansion of prasadam distribution (not food distribution) but PRASADAM distribution.
“Distribution of prasada to the ignorant masses of people is essential for persons who make offerings to the Personality of Godhead.” (SB 3.29.24). Prabhupada even clearly states earlier on in the SB that we should spend 50% of our income on kirtan and prasadam distribution:
“. . . The attempt must go on to convert unwilling men to become His devotees. Lord Caitanya has taught a very simple method in this connection. He has taught the lesson for preaching the transcendental message through singing, dancing and refreshment. As such, fifty percent of our income may be spent for this purpose” (SB 1.5.36).
Unfortunately, you’ll rarely here this quote in an ISKCON management seminar.
Of course, the term, “prasadam” doesn’t mean much to a non-devotee, so in the past FFLG has referred to prasadam as PURE FOOD. After all, prasadam is the purest of foods! Ultimately it is all about staying fixed on the goal of giving as many people as possible a chance to taste prasadam; serve prasadam; support the distribution of prasadam or engage in devotional service in some other way. Somehow or other, we have to reconnect people to Krishna.
I have found that Food for Life, more than any other project founded by or inspired by ISKCON, offers the most opportunities to engage people in seva.
What we need then is someone who is broad-minded, creative, well-informed, socially adept, communicative, and above all, has good knowledge of FFL service opportunities around the world. I am ready to train you.
The position is voluntary.
As the director, I am also a volunteer and that is just the way things are at the moment. This service is exciting, fun and on the front line of the Sankirtan movement.
Your service will mainly consist of communicating with volunteer applicants online and connecting them to service opportunities in their own country or overseas. However, when the need arises, we may ask you to travel as well, and if so, Food for Life Global will help with travel expenses. Other than that there is no other compensation. This is devotional service.
If you’re interested, contact me now. I need you.
Food for Life
FFL Global: http://www.ffl.org
FOOD FOR LIFE GLOBAL
PO BOX 59037
Potomac, MD 20859
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