If you're a Gator or a recent Gator alum, you probably already know that the Hare Krishna religious organization serves lunch every weekday in the Plaza of the Americas. The first Krishna Lunch was served at UF in 1971 and has been served every day of class since.

When Krishna Lunch began, all the food was free, but now they charge five dollars to cover the cost of fresh produce and biodegradable plates and utensils. Five dollars is still not so shabby for an all-you-can-eat vegetarian meal including salad, an entree, dessert, and tea or lemonade.

History and Values of Krishna Lunch 

Mackenzie Patel

Sounds good to me! You might think you're just about ready for a full plate of Krishna Lunch -- but there's so much more to know about it. Krishna Lunch has been engraved into the culture at UF. It is a constant event that you can bet will happen everyday right in front of Library West, yet so many students don't know the reason that the Krishnas continue to come out day after day.

Richie, the self-proclaimed "tea guy" at Krishna Lunch, explained some of the Krishna values to me while multitasking as he handed out cups of tea to students. His friend invited him to the Krishna's Sacred Sounds Music Festival at the University of Northern Florida, and it was there that he first felt the calmness of the Krishna's music meditation, which they have at UF's Krishna Lunch every afternoon. He was attracted to the Hare Krishnas because "everybody is so loving, generous and nice, like, genuinely nice without trying to pressure me to assume their beliefs."

Vegetarian All The Way!

Mackenzie Patel

Vegetarianism is a basic principle of the Hare Krishna movement. The Hare Krishnas believe that every living entity has a soul and that we are all equal. Their sanctified food is called prasadamand it is made as a form of meditation in practicing nonviolence and compassion for Krishna, their god.

The food is not tried the whole time it is being made, and then it is given to students in what Richie termed a "form of subtle preaching." By giving away this sacred food, they are erasing their karma

Richie wore mud on his face, called tilak, from a holy river in India. The tilak is symbolic of the body being a temple for the soul, because the soul is where our true identities lie. It helps him identify as a spirit (not a body) and to remember that when interacting with others.

Since January, Richie has watched over 800 students get Krishna Lunch each day - on this day the menu consisted of salad, Basmati rice, yellow mung bean soup, halava and lemongrass tea - and he asserted, "This is the happiest I've ever been in my life."

Delicious AND Historical

Mackenzie Patel

It's safe to say that Krishna Lunch is here to stay at UF. When the UF Krishnas were arrested in the 1970s for disturbing the peace by publicly serving their food, the judge quickly threw out the case, saying, "Let the Krishnas have their picnic." Krishna Lunch is one of many things that make this campus unique and diverse. Over time, this activity has been ingrained into the Gator community.

Now you're all set! Head out to the Plaza of the Americas for good vibes, chill people and a healthy, delicious meal!