The procedure given by our guru, Sri Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, is that we should first prepare the food to be offered to God in our temple or ashram, and then distribute the prasadam to the needy. This ensures that what we give to the poor is the highest quality food – what we would consider fit for offering as naivedyam to the Lord. Thus what we give them is not an ordinary meal, but sanctified food which has been accepted by the Lord.
In the Vedas we find the following statement:
ahara-shudhau sattva shudhi
sattva shuddhau dhruva-smritih
smriti-lambhe sarva granthinam vipramokshah
“By eating sanctified foods, one’s existence becomes purified. By the purification of one’s existence finer tissues in the memory become sanctified. When the finer tissues of remembrance become sanctified, all the knots within become untied.”
Thus the food that we give to the needy not only satisfies their hunger materially, but it begins the process of inner purification which ultimately leads one to “vipramoksha”, either in this life or the next.
Sri Krishna describes proper food in the Gita as follows:
rasyah snigdhah sthira hridya
“Foods dear to those in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one’s existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such foods are juicy, fatty, wholesome, and pleasing to the heart.”
We are always careful that only the best foods, sattvika-ahara, are prepared for use in our food relief program. To us it is not only a service to man, but a service to God, and a personal service to our Guru, Sri Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.