Krishna Lunch is a staple at the University of Florida. This authentic vegetarian meal has been served in the Plaza of the Americas for over forty years. Prepared and provided by the Krishna House located at 214 NW 14th Street, this traditional lunch is dished out by volunteers at the Plaza every week. Krishna Lunch is available for a $5 donation and for anyone who finds themselves on campus Monday through Friday between the hours of 11 AM and 1:30 PM.
Krishna Lunch is such an important part of the Krishna religion, and it is an extremely efficient way for the devotees in Gainesville to reach out to college students. This lunch is quite a large production and requires the contribution of three main cooks. They start preparing the food, which is comprised of many different vegetables and vegan-friendly ingredients, at 5 AM every weekday morning.
Extending past the Plaza and the cultural food offered by Krishna devotees, the Krishna House is home to the Bhakti Academy. According to their website, “the Bhakti Academy is an educational program designed to provide full-immersion experiences for students interested in practicing bhakti yoga in a temple atmosphere.” In addition to yoga, this academy provides many other Krishna activities and skills such as organic gardening techniques, composting systems, restaurant/kitchen management skills and vegan cooking.
Sucitra Devi Dasi, a Krishna devotee and student at the academy, explained the daily activities of the Krishna House. She said, “In the morning we have our daily meditation or worship in the temple room, and in the evenings we have different classes on Krishna consciousness philosophy.” Dasi added by saying, “It’s open to anyone to join in.”
Students from UF are welcome to participate in any of the Krishna House events. However, full-time students of the Bhakti Academy are required to pay tuition through service work. The website describes that “In exchange for tuition and room & board, Bhakti Academy students serve Krishna Lunch on campus, organize community educational classes, assist in temple programs, and help maintain the temple/ashram facility.”
The Krishna community that has formed as a result of these lunches and the welcoming atmosphere of the Krishna House is deeply rooted in the culture at UF. Dasi, who said, “[Krishna] has been a really positive influence in my life,” is only one of many who has been deeply impacted by this philosophy.
She shared that the completeness of the philosophy was initially very new and alluring to her. She also explained that the Krishna practices felt fulfilling and made her feel very content. “I felt something was missing in my heart, and I basically came to realize that it was a connection with God or a higher power, who we call Krishna,” said Dasi. “For all the questions I had, I could find the answers in the philosophy of Krishna Consciousness.”