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Baltimore’s “Hunger-Free Zone” Ensures No One in Ten-Mile Radius Goes Hungry


“We need to see that no person goes hungry inside a 10-mile radius,” Srila Prabhupada mentioned through the Gaura Purnima Festival in Mayapur in 1973. Inspired by this assertion, volunteers for the non-profit group Hunger-Free Zone are guaranteeing that nobody inside ten miles of their kitchen in Baltimore goes hungry. It’s a much-needed service, as the town has the best poverty charge in Maryland, 131.5% above the state’s poverty line.

Headed up by Baltimore temple president Nila Madhava Das and devotees from the Baltimore temple, the meals truck undertaking has been within the works for a while, and launched three months in the past. Devotees like cooks Siddhaswarup Das and Panchatattva Das, communications and IT assist manager Shyamrup Das, Sampradaya Das, and Executive Chef Sankirtan Yajna Das are amongst these behind the trouble.

Distributing prasadam

Sankirtan Yajna Das distributes prasadam

The staff distributes 200 piping scorching vegan meals a day, six days every week, and has thus far served over 16,000 meals to the needy in Baltimore. Every day, volunteers prepare dinner from round 10:30 am till 1:00 pm in a state-of-the-art kitchen. At 2:00 pm Sankirtan Yajna, who has been doing prasadam distribution for over 20 years, arrives from his day job and heads out with the Hunger-Free Zone truck to quite a few designated spots, to succeed in these in want.

“Some individuals are impoverished as a result of they haven’t any jobs or low earnings,” Sankirtan explains. “There are over 319 house complexes the place the residents make lower than $30,000 a 12 months. So we go to a few of them. We additionally go to senior citizen houses; to the homeless; to restoration houses, the place individuals are attempting to recover from habit; and to the streets the place people who find themselves impoverished congregate.”

Hunger Free Zone ensures loads of selection, with 17 completely different worldwide menus providing various kinds of rice, subji, beans, pasta dishes, and the ever-popular halava for dessert.

Cooking prasadam

Krishna Prasad Das and Panchatattva Das cooking in Hunger Free Zone’s state-of-the-art kitchen

“Everyone, younger and previous, loves halava!” Sankirtan Yajna says. “We make many alternative flavors – peach, mandarin orange, raisin apple, banana… When we give individuals the raisin apple, they are saying, ‘Oh, it’s apple pie with out the crust!’ Or once we give them peach halava, they are saying, “It’s peach cobbler!’”

According to Sankirtan Yajna, individuals couldn’t consider it after they first noticed the Hunger-Free Zone meals truck, and have been instructed that its scorching scrumptious delicacies was really free.

“Wherever we go, individuals are all simply so completely satisfied,” he says. “They begin saying, ‘I’m telling you now, that is the most effective I’ve ever had!’ Or ‘What have you ever bought in the present day? I need a few of these candy grits!’”

Packing prasadam

Sampradaya Das packing prasadam

Sankirtan Yajna additionally notes that whereas the individuals Hunger Free Zone serves could also be materially impoverished, they’re actually not spiritually impoverished.

“When you’re giving prasadam out to a line of 15 individuals, at the least 13 say, ‘God bless you,’ or ‘Oh, you’re doing God’s work,’ or ‘This is so superb – the Lord’s absolutely gonna care for you,’” he factors out.

Many are struck by the distinctive high quality of prasadam, and after consuming it for a number of weeks will ask questions like, “This is probably the most superb meals! Who are you? How do you do that?”

At the senior citizens' home

The Hunger-Free Zone meals truck pulls as much as a senior residents’ dwelling in Downtown Baltimore

“I say, ‘There’s a secret ingredient,’” Sankirtan Yajna explains. “I go searching like I’m not allowed to speak about it. Then I say, ‘It’s L-O-V-E for the Lord.’ And they go, ‘What! I’ve gotta have extra of that!’”

Some individuals, after seeing Srila Prabhupada’s smiling face on the aspect of the truck, and asking Sankirtan who he’s, request to examine Prabhupada, and take a few of his books dwelling.

Head Chef Siddhaswarup Das

Head chef Siddhaswarup Das

Sankirtan Yajna continues to be pushed by his need to feed individuals, and in the end to hold out Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Srila Prabhupada’s need. He quotes Srila Prabhupada’s purport to Sri Caitanya-charitamrita, Antya-lila 1.32: “By rendering a bit of service, even by consuming prasada, to not converse of chanting and dancing, everybody could possibly be promoted to Vaikunthaloka.”

Looking to the long run, Sankirtan hopes to get sufficient funding from supporters for Hunger-Free Zone to have the ability to distribute 500 meals a day.

“More assist means extra influence,” he says. “And meaning extra prasadam, extra meals going to the people who want it.”

For extra data and to assist Hunger Free Zone, please go to: http://hungerfreezone.org/

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