Food Not Bombs has won, it is more commonly accepted than hated. Despite intense police repression, terrorist watch lists, and the stigma that is common fare towards homeless and the poor — most people who have heard of it think it is okay to feed people for free. It has a simple straightforward model that can be replicated all over the planet — and it has.
Bay Area Food Not Bombs may be a model organization that other places can look to with envy. It’s located in an intelligent and active urban environment that has a largely sympathetic population. It is close to excellent farms and food producers who donate plenty of eats. Long-running and consistent servings further solidify its place on the streets and in our hearts.
Oakland Food Not Bombs now has one more day of hot meals cooked and dished out to folks. This is at 32nd & San Pablo Ave. and has been going strong for 6 months. Despite initial concerns that this would detract from getting help for the Berkeley People’s Park serving that happens at the same time, so far it hasn’t. There is also a food give away on Thursday mornings in Downtown Oakland, which initially had the difficulty of getting the large crowd not to push and shove for the food — behavior that our enemies mislabel as “Anarchy.”
Also coming down the line for the East Bay chapter is a move to make the organization a stand-alone non-profit. For the past 16 years it has been under the umbrella of the Long Haul non-profit, which enables many places to legally donate to it. There is some reluctance from people who shun any paper work dictated by “THE MAN.” Now it is time for the organization to stand on its own feet. This may be a good time too, because funding from a major source has just been hit by the hard times that everyone is talking about. The Berkeley Flea Market has made a cut in the monthly donations it gives that helps to pay for essentials such as bulk grains and beans. This does not rule out the traditional means of grassroots fundraising. There is talk of doing benefit shows and a self-published cookbook that has a focus on making meals for large numbers of people — as well as an angle of food security. But it is a small miracle of daily creating a way out of no way that testifies how money can’t replace people power.
Then there is San Francisco Food Not Bombs. They have as an impressive long run of serving since January 1988 — which is after the whole thing started in 1980 in Boston. The 30th Anniversary celebration will take place in Boston on the weekend of May 23, but celebrations will happen in just about every city the organization operates out of — which is over a thousand cities. Now some people have set out to put together the San Francisco celebration of Soupstock. We must have food to live, and we must celebrate to mark the season change and to break from our work. Help is needed in planning the Anniversary. The thousands of details to be addressed are now being examined. Last year was poorly attended. But if people know it’s coming maybe more excitement will be generated. How much activity can you imagine? Stop by on Thursday nights at Station 40 (16th and Mission St.) to informally talk about it. People gather at 5pm to cook for the night’s serving. For further info you can also call Diamond Dave at 415-240-0286.
San Francisco faced the most brutal repression in the first few years of serving. The thinly veiled war against the poor did not convince the courts or the general public that food could not be given away for free. Nor has the FBI deterred the grassroots by claiming Food Not Bombs as a terrorist organization. We have something to learn from this. Even here in the city where the first Human Rights charter was signed, just as many human necessities are blatantly disregarded. Not that anarchists give a fart over the UN, but issues like shelter and peace have to be wrangled out of the hands of the lying-ass of government and brought back into our hands — as Food Not Bombs shows us with food distribution. Today is very dire with people living without shelter — without homes. 2009 saw over 100 deaths of homeless people in the state of California alone. Unnecessary suffering while a large amount of houses and buildings remain vacant. The most practical solution is to make squatting as common as giving out bread. Other problems facing our communities would be the need to have conflict resolution that isn’t administered by the police. Having a locally controlled alternative to Law Enforcement seems more necessary in view of the fact that the present structure has its roots in vigilantes organized by the ultra-rich. Police have not evolved much from terrorizing runaway slaves, and recently immigrated workers organizing themselves. These problems can be seriously looked at when the 30th Anniversary comes around with the conference and the dozen micro-gatherings that grow around the main event. And of course once we’re together the possibilities of our ideas and dreams can get collective help in actualizing them.