Food Not Bombs HP 1/2 Presentation Today
Today Hyde Park Half, a newly forming community center, hosted a presentation by Keith McHenry who is a founder of a movement called “Food Not Bombs.” A snippet of the history of the initiative provided by foodnotbombs.net:
Food Not Bombs is one of the fastest growing revolutionary movements and is gaining momentum throughout the world. There are hundreds of autonomous chapters sharing free vegetarian food with hungry people and protesting war and poverty. Food Not Bombs is not a charity. This energetic grassroots movement is active throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. Food Not Bombs is organizing for peace and an end to the occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. For nearly 30 years the movement has worked to end hunger and has supported actions to stop the globalization of the economy, restrictions to the movements of people, end exploitation and the destruction of the earth.
The first group was formed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1980 by anti-nuclear activists. Food Not Bombs is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to nonviolent social change. Food Not Bombs has no formal leaders and strives to include everyone in its decision making process. Each group recovers food that would otherwise be thrown out and makes fresh hot vegan and vegetarian meals that are served in outside in public spaces to anyone without restriction. Each independent group also serves free meals at protests and other events.
Keith sat down with us and explained the entire history of FNB (a span of 30 years according to the website). It was kooky, funny, and informative. It’s amazing how activism just springs up on people out of the blue. Keith wasn’t planning on getting involved in what is now a worldwide movement to combat the suffering caused by world hunger. He was just an artist who met up with like-minded individuals in Massachusetts. One of their friends was jailed (in the political sense of the word) and so the group was trying to raise money for his release. One talk and idea led to another amongst the original 8 founders and they had a movement in their hands. There was a key quote brought up that really led to the principles behind Food Not Bombs:
Once they had the will and the idea, the first FNB found a way. Cleverly they used disguises, abandoned buildings, and even created a homeless tent city in order to provide food for those in need of it. The police and other government officials tried numerous tactics such as imprisonment, evacuation and physical abuse in order to stop the group.
Food Not Bombs still triumphed over the forces aimed at stopping their efforts. They went on to influence other cities, states and even countries with their contributions in times of major disasters (such as a major Earthquake in San Francisco in the 80’s, the 9/11 incident, and Hurricane Katrina) and in everyday actions with the homeless and the needy.
What FNB does the most is pick up food from markets that cannot be legally sold because of due dates. The near date foods from markets and restaurants are typically an estimate and due to the way foods are preserved in modern times, such foods can last for quite sometime after the date. The volunteers then set up stations to serve the food to those who want and need it – at no cost. Food Not Bombs has spread to many countries (Austrailia, New Zealand, Palestine in Isreal, places in Africa, etc.) and the idea behind this initiative’s practice has extended into other realms: Food Not Lawns (movement that helps to encourage turning lawns into gardens), Bikes Not Bombs (free bike-making shop and bike give away), Home Not Jails (avocation to allow vacant homes to be made into living space for the homeless), the Really Really Free Markets (a free version of Farmer’s Market), Indymedia, the Free Radio Movement AND MORE. Some people can start a similar project any day now!
This is one of my favorite aspects of the human family, and the things that FNB and similar collectives is something that should be done by many more. Remove the focus from standardization, globalization, money or war. FOOD Not Bombs!
Listening to Keith McHenry’s story and hearing about the movement really inspired me. I feel more confident that with dedication, spirit and willpower, that I can go out and meet others and work towards making change in an area that is very important too – education! I’ve even started thinking about catchy slogans. I will also definitely get membership with A.E.R.O. soon.
Here are some photo highlights:
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