What is Food Not Bombs?
Food Not Bombs is a grassroots political organization who's primary purpose is to share vegan food to the homeless. In this way, a Food Not Bombs group becomes, in effect, a mobile soup kitchen, heading into areas with a high homeless population to offer them food with no strings attached. This is in an effort to de-criminalize the homeless. Most soup kitchens which serve the homeless are located in a building, which the homeless have to go to in order to be served. Some, particularly those with a religious slant, might also make those who come to eat have to do something such as say a prayer to a god they might not believe in, wait in a long line, or behave in a certain way. We're not saying that these soup kitchens are not helping out the people who eat at them, merely suggesting that there is an alternate way to share food with people who need it. By creating an environment within a particular community where the homeless can come share food for free without having to stand in a line, or even leave their neighborhood, we feel a more human connection is made. It allows for those of us involved in the group to learn and share with those who come to eat, as opposed to setting us up on a higher plane then them, from which we bless them with food. Beyond that, everybody knows that picnics are fun! We also choose to share primarily vegan and vegetarian food for two reasons. One- vegan food is healthy and won't cause us to get in trouble with the police (there are laws against serving meat in public places). And two- vegan food represents food which was made free of exploitation or murder of any living creature, thusly further promoting the groups ideas about equality for all. We also attempt to work on as little budget as possible in an effort to prove that it truly isn't costly to help out, and can, in fact, often be done with surplus food thrown out by grocery stores.
Some people have critcized Food Not Bombs saying that an organization which offers free food to the homeless doesn't actually do anything to help the problem. The old concept of "give a person a fish and you feed them for a day..." To a degree, this is true. We don't claim to be changing the world in any dramatic way. Unless efforts are made to help the homeless at a much larger level, there will continue to be a homeless problem. Food Not Bombs does, however, serve many uselful purposes. For one, just because we may not be able to "change the world" doesn't absolve us from our duty to help out. No, offering someone some tasty tofu isn't about to bring about the downfall of classism in the United States, but it will certainly make a difference to the person in question who gets to eat for that day. Beyond that, Food Not Bombs serves as a model for one of the possible ways in which society could work. How many times has someone told you that there's really nothing we can do to help the homeless? How many times has someone told you that it's their own fault that they're homeless? How many times has someone told you that it would be too costly to feed everyone who's going hungry? Well to those people you can point to a Food Not Bombs group and say "if ten kids can feed a hundred people on one sunday afternoon with food they got for free, and engage in conversation with them to share and learn, then there's no legitimate reason why the governments and corporations of the world who have one hundred times the resources that these kids do couldn't do the same."