Feeding people in Missouri: an interview with Springfield Food Not Bombs

There have been people in Springfield Missouri who have wanted to start a local Food Not Bombs chapter for years and it just never materialized; J. was active at Occupy Oakland and made his way back to the Midwest with his friend C. They have been working to make Springfield FNB happen.
Hey J.!

Howdy! Springfield Food Not Bombs first feeding will be on Sunday! We planned it to be small since we are just starting out. We are making food for about 20 or so people. Tonight we have a meeting for a group of us (very small group) that are looking to start a Food Not Bombs.
How are you getting food and stuff?

That is what we are trying to figure out. Dumpstering is not really an option here. We saw an alternative in Reno, they hit food banks and used that. Then, there are some people who worked with some local health food place and other businesses to get some food donated for various actions so that is an avenue to check out as well. I am pretty excited [about starting a Food Not Bombs] and C. is even more so. We found some people who have been wanting to do it but never did. It’s not Oakland, but we are trying to bring some of that spirit here.
Given the way that feeding people overlaps with the mission of mainstream charities, what do you feel you are accomplishing by organizing a Food Not Bombs? I work with Food Not Bombs in the East Bay and this question comes up often.

Well here the homeless services are pretty limited. There is only one consistent night meal provided here and the place that does it, The Victory Mission, requires anyone who wishes to eat to sit through a sermon. If you are late they lock the doors and if you leave during the sermon, you don’t eat.
Starve in the name of Jesus, hallelujah!

When I was there the guy in charge told everyone to make sure to use the bathroom before chapel because if we left for any reason, we couldn’t eat.

To me that is absolutely ridiculous; that they will hold the ability to eat over people’s heads like that!
Tell me a little more about Springfield?

There is no real anarchist community here. There are a few anarchists that I have met, but they don’t really talk about it or do anything because it wouldn’t be accepted here. I am hoping that by organizing a Food Not Bombs that we can bring some of these people together and show them that although we are a minority, especially in this area of the country, we do exist.
What is the population like there?

A couple hundred thousand maybe, it’s the biggest city in this part of Missouri. There is a small group of us who want to start handing out anarchist literature. We are collecting various pamphlets and what-not. We want to start an anarchist community center. They had one here a few years ago but it didn’t last very long. We are thinking if we find a building with a room or two we could, as a group, rent the building and the rent for the rooms could help pay for the info-shop. Rent here is pretty cheap, so we may be able to pull it off.

Later that week…
Hey J., How did things go?

Hey! We did the first Food Not Bombs event tonight! Went better than I thought it would. Fed around 40. There were a few who came at the end and we ran out of food. It was interesting because most of the people here weren’t familiar with Food Not Bombs and were surprised by the lack of a sermon and more relaxed environment. It was fun. We are going to go over it tomorrow at the meeting and figure out how to make it better and be better prepared.