Food Not Bombs 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 all volunteer grassroots movement is active throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. For over 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 and its beings.
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. Many Food Not Bombs groups also share groceries and organize other efforts to support their communities. Each independent group also serves free meals at protests and other events.
The San Francisco Police arrested 9 volunteers for making a political statement at the entrance to Golden Gate Park on Monday, August 15, 1988. The San Francisco Police made over 1,000 arrests from 1988 to 1997 in government's effort to silence its protest against the city's anti- homeless policies. Amnesty International states it will adopt those Food Not Bombs volunteers that are convicted as "Prisoners of Conscience" and will work for their unconditional release.
When news spread about the arrests in San Francisco people were inspired to start Food Not Bombs groups in their own communities at first in Seattle, Washington, Victoria British Columbia, New York City, New York and Washington D.C. After police made another 300 arrests in the summer of 1989 after shutting down a 27 day occupation in support of the homeless new chapters started in most of the major cities of Canada and the United States as well as in London, England, Prague Czechoslovakia and Melbourne, Australia. Those arrested ended when a huge earthquake cut off the power and gas on October 17, 1989 . Police discovered that the only meals available to them were being provided by Food Not Bombs.
Food Not Bombs is often the first to provide food and supplies to the survivors of disasters. Food Not Bombs was also the first to provide hot meals to the rescue workers responding to September 11th World Trade Center attacks. Food Not Bombs volunteers were among the first to provide food and help to the survivors of the Asian Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. Our volunteers organized a national collection program and delivered bus and truckloads of food and supplies to the gulf region becoming the only organization to share daily meals in New Orleans after Katrina.
Food Not Bombs provided the meals for the protesters at many occupations including Camp Casey outside Bush's ranch in Texas, at a 100 day occupation in Kiev, Ukraine during the Orange Revolution, at a two month Peace Camp on the west Bank in Palestine and at a 600 day farmer's occupation in Bosnia and Herzegovina Square in Sarajevo. Volunteers also helped organize and shared meals at the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle and provide logistical support for many other anti-globalization actions. Food Not Bombs groups started animal rescue shelters in 24 cities in Slovakia. We are also sharing meals at protests responding to the global economic crisis.
As the global economy was starting to collapse the city of Orlando passed a law restricting the sharing of meals with the hungry. The Orlando Police arrested Food Not Bombs volunteer Eric Montanez on April 4, 2007. Many other America cities also introduced laws to discourage the feeding of the hungry and Food Not Bombs volunteers were arrested in Nevada, Connecticut and several other states. Eric was found innocent and Food Not Bombs challenged the law in Federal Court. After winning at the district level the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals rule that Orlando could restrict Food Not Bombs to twice a year per park. The city started arresting the volunteers for sharing meals at Lake Eola Park on June 1, 2011 but stopped when the mayor agreed to let Food Not Bombs continue it's meals outside City Hall. Volunteers were also being arrested for sharing meals in Minks, Belarus.
Food Not Bombs works in coalition with groups like Earth First!, The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, Anarchist Black Cross, the IWW, Homes Not Jails, Anti Racist Action, Farm Animal Rights Movement, In Defense of Animals, the Free Radio Movement and other organizations on the cutting edge of positive social change and resistance to the new global austerity program. Food Not Bombs is now preparing for the economic crash organizing Food Not Lawns community gardens, housing the homeless with Homes Not Jails, organizing additional meals each week while starting new Food Not Bombs chapters in as many communities as possible.
Many groups also organize Really Really Free Markets giving away all kinds of items for free, and may also organize Bikes Not Bombs programs collecting and repairing used bicycles to provide to people in low-income communities. We also provide meals to protesters at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in the United States and have provided meals to the families of striking workers including the Republic Window and Door occupation in Chicago, hospital workers strikes in San Francisco and at many auto workers strikes in South Korea. Food Not Bombs also help organize actions encouraging alternatives to the failure of capitalism including the wave of occupations that started in 2011.
Along with organizing the celebration each local chapter collects and distributes food every week and there are several other projects that support the Food Not Bombs movement. One collective called "A Food Not Bombs Menu." is organized as a global coordination office helping people find or start local chapters. They also maintain the website www.foodnotbombs.net
, organize tours and support Food Not Bombs gatherings. They also provide books, t-shirts and other materials to promote the principles of Food Not Bombs. We hope you will join us in taking direct action towards creating a world free from domination, coercion and violence. Food is a right, not a privilege.
The Three Principles of Food Not Bombs
ONE - ALWAYS VEGAN OR VEGETARIAN AND FREE TO EVERYONE
Our food is vegan or vegetarian and free to anyone without restriction, rich or poor, stoned or sober. First, the potential for problems with food spoilage are greatly reduced when dealing strictly with plant based foods. Second, we want our food to reflect our dedication to nonviolence and that included violence against all beings including animals. We only prepare food which is strictly from plant sources so people will always know and trust Food Not Bombs that our food is safe and nonviolent. At times, we do get donations of dairy and meat products which might and redirect it to soup kitchens that aren't vegetarian because we believe eating is more important than being politically pure; however, we NEVER cook with animal products ourselves and only share breads that might have dairy when it is not possible to know for sure.
TWO - EACH CHAPTER IS INDEPENDENT AND AUTONOMOUS AND MAKES DECISIONS USING THE CONSENSUS PROCESS
Each Food Not Bombs chapter is autonomous and uses a process of consensus to make decisions. There are no leaders, presidents or directors, and no headquarters. Everyone in each chapter is encouraged to participate in the decision making including those who depend on Food Not Bombs for their meals. Your chapter may meet once a week or once a month but no one volunteer is empowered to tell the rest of the group how it is to operate and there is no headquarters to direct the activities of any chapter. The process of consensus is not voting or the use of "Robert's Rules of Order" where a majority determine the decisions. In consensus a decisions is not made until the proposal is one that everyone participating supports and can feel good giving their consent. There are a number of resources to help your chapter learn to use consensus on the web and you can also request support from volunteers who have been active in other Food Not Bombs groups.
THREE - FOOD NOT BOMBS IS NOT A CHARITY AND IS DEDICATED TO NONVIOLENT SOCIAL CHANGE
Food Not Bombs is not a charity but is dedicated to using nonviolent direct action to change society so no one needs to stand in line to eat at a soup kitchen. Our volunteers not only provide meals to the hungry on the streets and at protests we also participate in planning and implementing campaigns of nonviolent direct action. Our volunteers helped organize and provided meals to activists at blockades, sit-ins, strikes, marches, tree sits and lock downs. Our actions can involve art, music, puppets, banners and many other creative strategies. Our volunteers have provided food to workers and their families while on strike and they have smuggled food into factory and office occupations. Food Not Bombs volunteers can help facilitate Nonviolence Preparations to prepare for campaigns of non-cooperation and nonviolent resistance. There is nothing passive about nonviolent direct action.