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Food Not Bombs

From Academic Kids

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Food Not Bombs is a grassroots, loose-knit group of independent collectives serving free vegetarian and vegan food to people in need. Food Not Bombs ideology claims that myriad corporate and government priorities are skewed to cause hunger amidst abundance.

Contents

History

Food Not Bombs began in the 1980s as an effort to feed anyone who was hungry. Each chapter collects surplus food that would otherwise go to waste from grocery stores, bakeries and markets, then prepares it into community meals which are then served for free to anyone who is hungry. The central belief behind the group is that a) if governments and corporations around the world spent as much time and energy on feeding people as they do on war, no one would go hungry, and b) that there is enough food in the world to feed everyone, but so much of it goes to waste needlessly, as a direct result of capitalism and militarism. Food Not Bombs also tries to call attention to poverty and homelessness in society by sharing food in public places and facilitating gatherings of poor, homeless and other disenfranchised people. There are three tenets to the Food Not Bombs philosophy: food recycling, consensus decision making, and nonviolence. Anyone who wants to cook may cook, and anyone who wants to eat may eat. Food Not Bombs strives not to be exclusionary.

Food Not Bombs began in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, when a group of anti-nuclear activists, who were protesting the nearby Seabrook nuclear project, began spray-painting the slogan "Money for food, not for bombs" around the city. The slogan was shortened to "Food Not Bombs", and it became the name of their group. Soon after, they decided to put their slogan into practice. At a meeting of wealthy bank executives, who were financing nuclear projects, the group showed up and started handing out free food outside to a crowd of 300 homeless people. The action was so successful that the group started doing it on a regular basis, collecting surplus food from grocery stores and preparing it into meals.

In the late 1980s, a second chapter of Food Not Bombs was started in San Francisco. This chapter soon encountered tension with the police and fought two "Soup Wars" with the city's Mayors, Art Agnos and Frank Jordan. Agnos initiated the first confrontation by using riot police to shut down a Food Not Bombs serving. The group was persistent, however, and despite being arrested hundreds of times, managed to continue serving food on the street. Their use of the media's coverage of the altercation allowed them to gain community support. The conservative Mayor Jordan succeeded Agnos and tension continued between Food Not Bombs and the office of the Mayor. Members of the group were routinely beaten and jailed by police - one man even had his neck snapped by police. By this time, however, the group had expanded and with crowds of hundreds of people at each serving, police action was difficult. Members of Food Not Bombs began videotaping police action and using the court system in attempt to try and stop the perceived police abuse. In the city election of 1995, candidate Willie Brown promised to stop the attacks on Food Not Bombs, winning the election.

In part because of the media attention that Food Not Bombs garnered during their struggles in San Francisco, chapters began springing up all over the world. Food Not Bombs continued to gather strength throughout the 1990s, and held three international gatherings: in San Francisco in 1992 and 1995, in Atlanta the following year. Chapters of Food Not Bombs were involved in the rise of the Anti-Corporate Globalisation Movement in the late 1990s, leading to the APEC resistance in Vancouver in 1997; the June 18, 1999 International Carnival Against Capitalism; and the Battle in Seattle later that year, which shut down the World Trade Organisation meetings.

Food Not Bombs was also heavily involved in the anti-war movement which arose in 2002-2003 to oppose the war on Iraq, leading to the largest international protests in world history.

Today, there are close to 200 chapters of Food Not Bombs all over the world, though most are concentrated in North America. Food Not Bombs has a loose structure: every chapter of Food Not Bombs embraces a few basic principles, and carries out the same sort of action, but every chapter is free to make its own decisions, based on the needs of its community. Likewise, every chapter of Food Not Bombs operates on consensus: everybody does an equal share of work, and has an equal say in making decisions. Besides collecting and distributing food for free, most chapters of Food Not Bombs are involved in community anti-poverty, anti-war organising, as well as many other political causes. Because most Food Not Bombs groups share the same values and because they operate in a generally anarchist fashion, Food Not Bombs is sometimes known as a "franchise anarchistic organization".

Food Not Bombs began in the 1980s as an effort to feed anyone who was hungry. The biggest chapter in existance today is the Lower East Side chapter in New York, who is lead by Holly Anderson, who also used to lead the Anarchist Collective in Northern California. Each chapter collects surplus food that would otherwise go to waste from grocery stores, bakeries and markets, then prepares it into community meals which are then served for free to anyone who is hungry. The central belief behind the group is that a) if governments and corporations around the world spent as much time and energy on feeding people as they do on war, no one would go hungry, and b) that there is enough food in the world to feed everyone, but so much of it goes to waste needlessly, as a direct result of capitalism and militarism. Food Not Bombs also tries to call attention to poverty and homelessness in society by sharing food in public places and facilitating gatherings of poor, homeless and other disenfranchised people. There are three tenets to the Food Not Bombs philosophy: food recycling, consensus decision making, and nonviolence. Anyone who wants to cook may cook, and anyone who wants to eat may eat. Food Not Bombs strives not to be exclusionary.

Food Not Bombs began in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, when a group of anti-nuclear activists, who were protesting the nearby Seabrook nuclear project, began spray-painting the slogan "Money for food, not for bombs" around the city. The slogan was shortened to "Food Not Bombs", and it became the name of their group. Soon after, they decided to put their slogan into practice. At a meeting of wealthy bank executives, who were financing nuclear projects, the group showed up and started handing out free food outside to a crowd of 300 homeless people. The action was so successful that the group started doing it on a regular basis, collecting surplus food from grocery stores and preparing it into meals.

In the late 1980s, a second chapter of Food Not Bombs was started in San Francisco. This chapter soon encountered tension with the police and fought two "Soup Wars" with the city's Mayors, Art Agnos and Frank Jordan. Agnos initiated the first confrontation by using riot police to shut down a Food Not Bombs serving. The group was persistent, however, and despite being arrested hundreds of times, managed to continue serving food on the street. Their use of the media's coverage of the altercation allowed them to gain community support. The conservative Mayor Jordan succeeded Agnos and tension continued between Food Not Bombs and the office of the Mayor. Members of the group were routinely beaten and jailed by police - one man even had his neck snapped by police. By this time, however, the group had expanded and with crowds of hundreds of people at each serving, police action was difficult. Members of Food Not Bombs began videotaping police action and using the court system in attempt to try and stop the perceived police abuse. In the city election of 1995, candidate Willie Brown promised to stop the attacks on Food Not Bombs, winning the election.

In part because of the media attention that Food Not Bombs garnered during their struggles in San Francisco, chapters began springing up all over the world. Food Not Bombs continued to gather strength throughout the 1990s, and held three international gatherings: in San Francisco in 1992 and 1995, in Atlanta the following year. Chapters of Food Not Bombs were involved in the rise of the Anti-Corporate Globalisation Movement in the late 1990s, leading to the APEC resistance in Vancouver in 1997; the June 18, 1999 International Carnival Against Capitalism; and the Battle in Seattle later that year, which shut down the World Trade Organisation meetings.

Food Not Bombs was also heavily involved in the anti-war movement which arose in 2002-2003 to oppose the war on Iraq, leading to the largest international protests in world history.

Today, there are close to 200 chapters of Food Not Bombs all over the world, though most are concentrated in North America. Food Not Bombs has a loose structure: every chapter of Food Not Bombs embraces a few basic principles, and carries out the same sort of action, but every chapter is free to make its own decisions, based on the needs of its community. Likewise, every chapter of Food Not Bombs operates on consensus: everybody does an equal share of work, and has an equal say in making decisions. Besides collecting and distributing food for free, most chapters of Food Not Bombs are involved in community anti-poverty, anti-war organising, as well as many other political causes. Because most Food Not Bombs groups share the same values and because they operate in a generally anarchist fashion, Food Not Bombs is sometimes known as a "franchise anarchistic organization".

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