Food Not Bombs
July 2018 Preface
Originally in Upheaval, Volume 2, Issue 1, 2008, Phoenix Anarchist Coalition. This is an early writing drawn from experiences with different Food Not Bombs groups in Nevada and Arizona. Often, there was a struggle to maintain the focus of the group, and specifically its radicality and adherence to veganism.
Lately, I have seen many Food Not Bombs volunteers that are ignorant as to what the organization, made up of grassroots, autonomous groups throughout the world, is really all about.
To start, here is the chorus and last verse to the Food Not Bombs song, which can be found on the Internet:
Food, not Bombs!
We’re gonna take the streets and ransack the dumpsters
Food, not Bombs!
We’re gonna sit ya at a table and feed your face, with
Food, not Bombs!
‘Cause those guns and nukes cause indigestion
Food, not Bombs!
We’re gonna fill up all the tummies in the human race!
You’ve gotta fight the corporations every inch of the mile,
From the factors of production to the produce aisle
Uproot the crops and burn the tractor!
Monkey-wrench the trash compactor!
Shoplift in the supermarket chain
Every dollar that they profit is your people’s pain
But every nickel that you save on your criminal spree
Is gonna help you build your local mom and pop economy!
Tear up their toxic parking lots
And replace them with some all-organic garden plots
And go Food, not Bombs!
Food not Bombs is Radical
FNB is not a soup kitchen, nor is it simply about feeding the homeless. FNB groups do not have to go out of their way to find homeless people to feed. FNB serves to call attention to the military-industrial complex, and the fact that people in the wealthiest nation in the world are starving while their government builds and detonates bombs — hence the name.
Traditionally, the best way to call attention to these issues is to go into a public place (such as a park) and share food with anyone who might be hungry at that time. Just being visible with the notion of Food not Bombs is the main goal. Having a regular schedule will ensure those that really need to eat know where to do.
In addition, the food we serve should either be dumpstered or donated — preferably dumpstered. The pupose is to use food that would have otherwise been thrown out — a good lesson in the waste of this country: while people are hungry, good food goes in the trash.
With crackdowns on Food not Bombs groups throughout the United States (most recently in Prescott) and elsewhere — particularly in Nevada and Florida, volunteers should know how to deal with the police, and be willing to get arrested. The important thing is not to relinquish your public space and to keep the schedule as regular as possible.
If you suspect a police crackdown during an FNB food-sharing day, send a few people with a small amount of food (in containers you do not mind getting seized or damaged) to your serving location. Once those members have been arrested and taken away, send another group. Repeat the process until the police give up for the day, and you can serve anyone who has yet to eat. In the Food Not Bombs book, C.T. Butler and Keith McHenry (FNB co-founders) say they have not heard of more than three small groups being taken away before the police give up.
Food not Bombs is Vegan
Dairy is to be used as a last resort. Incorporate it if you have received a large donation, but overwhelmingly, Food not Bombs is vegan. This is to maintain its reputation as a place where all can eat (not to mention avoid the dangers of handling and serving meat and dairy) — this is universal among the Food not Bombs groups. Vegas dishes should be available each serving day.
Food Not Bombs in not a Network for Social Services
The notion of Food not Bombs is that of a basic failing of our government to provide for its citizens. We should not be quick to recommend the services of a government that does not care about its people, or church groups with dubious histories of actual help. The idea of Food not Bombs should encourage people to build their own networks of mutual aid and support to move us away from government dependence and toward people helping and governing themselves, without the need of government as an institution.
Lastly, one particularly important function of Food not Bombs that often gets overlooked is solidarity with other radical groups and struggles. FNB should be serving at demonstrations, to strikers, and others, so that these activities can continue much longer than if the participants had to go off-site to find food.
Of course, as an individual you can do anything mentioned here — serve meat, share services, etc — but it is out of the scope of a Food not Bombs group and should not be attributed to us.
Everyone is encouraged to volunteer, help out, or start a Food not Bombs group. Familiarizing yourself with the tenets of FNB makes you a more effective member and is just common sense.
The author has been involved with FNB since 2005 and is a veteran of the crackdown on Food Not Bombs in Las Vegas from 2006-2007.