In a typical month, nearly 22,000 bananas, 120 bottles of soy sauce, and an incredible 5,500 pounds of flour, among many other ingredients including vegetables, rice, noodles, and tea, are utilized in preparation for this offering of vegetarian meals for, on average, 1,600 monks every day.
The Sera Je Food Fund doesn’t just supply food. A tremendous amount of work must go into the planning, cooking, serving, and cleaning up of the daily meals.
Every day each khangtsen (monastic house made up of monks from the same regions) informs the Sera Je Food Fund Kitchen how many monks will be joining for meals so the cooks can always prepare the right amount of food. There is almost no waste from the kitchen because any leftovers are offered to monks who engage in evening debate or classes allowing the monks to enjoy a second dinner if they are studying or debating late. Any food bought by the kitchen that is not used is sold back to the market making the waste for the kitchen extremely low. This is quite impressive when considering the volume of food being prepared and cooked.
Typically, about 50 monks are assigned to kitchen duties every day. They help ensure that the ingredients are top quality, that the kitchen is always hygienic and efficient, and that the food is tasty for the monks. Lunch is often eaten as a group in the Sera Je gompa when there are pujas or practices happening.
Equipment and kitchen supply needs are ongoing, maintenance and repairs are frequent, office supplies are needed for administration and accounting, pujas and prayers for the project’s success are regularly sponsored, and dry food is organized during special occasions such as holidays and major teaching events when the monastery kitchen is closed down. All of this costs approximately US$200,000 every year to actualize. A small price considering the incredible benefit offered to so many. Lama Zopa Rinpoche has taught extensively on the benefits of offering to Sangha.
The Supporting Ordained Sangha Fund was established to support monks and nuns with a focus on the health and sustainability of monasteries and nunneries. While the Sera Je Food Fund has been our most successful and ambitious project to date, future plans for this fund will enable FPMT to make ongoing offerings in a much broader way.
“Educating monks and nuns is one of the most important things in the world.” – Lama Zopa Rinpoche
The Sera Je Food Fund was established with very clear goals and recently one of those major objectives has been achieved. We look forward to releasing details on this in weeks to come. We invite all to connect with the Supporting Ordained Sangha Fund to keep up on news, information on new initiatives, and opportunities to get involved and support these efforts to help monasteries and nunneries thrive.
You can learn more about the Supporting Ordained Sangha Fund and the ways it supports monasteries and nunneries.