Food Not Bombs: or, Free Bread and Soup is a National Threat

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Food Not Bombs lunch in PortlandAlthough Daniel Quinn hasn’t amounted to much since his breakthrough book Ishmael, still: hot damn, that was one hell of a book. The realization that I lived in a culture that locked up it’s food in order to force us to work was a brutal shock.  Come to think of it, it still is a brutal shock, because that’s one of those “hidden in plain sight” secrets that’s easy to forget for months at a time.

One of the best illustrations of how absurd and horrific our Great Nation really is would have to be the saga of Food Not Bombs, an activist franchise that’s dedicated to the radically dangerous act of feeding homeless people.  Yep.  They set up public kitchens and give away meals—generally vegan and organic, to boot—to anyone and everyone who wants some food.

The story of how America has responded to these allegedly peaceful and well-intentioned terrorists will make your heart swell with patriotic pride.  Or, it might make you puke.

getting busted down in Orlando, FLFood not Bombs promotes organization and democracy.  This is a problem for most people in power here in the US.  The clear message that has been sent for 20 years straight now is that charity is something that should weaken people.

Observe the Faith-Based Initiatives for a resonably firm proof of this.  The Salvation Army is another fine example.  Poor people are not being told how to actually improve their quality of life, they are instead given a deeply sick rationalization for their suffering, coupled with the promise of an afterlife that will be better.  This is a pretty disgusting lie—sorry if that offends any of our readers.

Perhaps most hilarious of all, Food Not Bombs has been identified by numerous government, military and intelligence organizations as a terrorist group. Considering that Christian charitable organizations such as World Vision have been implicated in heroin smuggling, supporting death squads, and boast a roll call of former employees like Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK), Sirhan Sirhan (RFK) and John Hinkley Jr. (Reagan), you’d think they might be listed as a terrorist threat, too.....but no, World Vision in fact gets millions in federal grants and subsidies.

So what possible rationale could sane humans use to object to free food for the least fortunate?

The following news article, this one from Colorado, is pretty typical of the response:

There is no city regulation dealing with the mass feeding of people at a public park, Sanders said. And since there’s no allowance for it, then it can’t be done, he said. Of course, there isn’t any prohibition, either.

Permits are required for gatherings of more than 25 people, Sanders said, but mass feedings are not among the accepted activities.

Groups such as Bridge of Hope, Heritage Christian Center and Food Not Bombs see it differently. They’ve been offering free meals to the homeless in the park for years and think the city suddenly wants them out of sight.

“They said they want to end homelessness and I guess one way to do that is to starve them out,” said Cameron Morrow, a Parker resident who volunteers twice a week feeding the hungry at the park. “It just seems like they don’t want the homeless people in the park.”

Not so, says Jamie Van Leeuwen, project manager of Denver’s Road Home, the city’s 10-year plan to end homelessness. “We just want to ensure services are as coordinated as strategically possible,” he said.

Dumpster Diving

the freakin' freegans

Another shining example of our culture’s violent insanity would be the response to “freegans” or “dumpster divers”.  Observe:

As an example of the absurd measures people take to protect their garbage, he describes the scene behind the McDonald’s at Main and Rosewood. A large cinder-block building is locked tight by a metal gate. On top of the structure, broken bottles have been cemented onto the blocks. And then there’s concentration-camp-style razor wire on top of all of that. Inside the building are one Dumpster and a grease trap.

“Who wants a Big Mac anyway?” he asks.

His 27-year-old housemate, Nicole Caldwell, adds, “It’s like they’ve got gold in there or something.”

Razor wire is but one of the dangers faced by Dumpster-divers. One 26-year-old participant in the Houston chapter of Food Not Bombs, who asked not to be named, was shot two years ago while diving with a friend in Oakland.

“We were digging through, finding great pastries to bring back to our friends, when I began to notice a car had passed by us at least twice before,” he says. “I climbed out of the Dumpster and on top of the fence when I heard a terrifyingly loud blast. I did not see much and did not feel any pain, but felt numb and knew something was wrong.”

---from this outstanding Houston Press article

A Mercifully Brief Reality Check

downtown Los Angeles, not some 3rd world nationSo what’s the frequency, Kenny?  What are the raw numbers?

For starters, the USDA estimates we throw out about 10 tons of perfectly good food each month here in the US.  They also estimate that 11.9% of all US homes suffer from the hilarious euphemism of “food insecurity” --- in other words, they don’t have enough f***ing food.  That’s bad enough, but remember this is US homes, not US shelters and streets.

Considering that, at any given moment, 3-7 million americans are homeless, that means that one in nine Americans can’t get enough to eat.  Restaurants in the US make $240 billion annually, and grocery stores rack up $550 billion annually.

Although it’s beyond the scope of this article, at least consider how food is actually created and delivered in the United States.  It is depedent upon chemicals and giant “agribusiness” corporate farms, dependent upon underpaid and literally disposable immigrant labor, dependent upon a fleet of millions of gas-burning trucks for delivery, and dependent upon unskilled, minimum labor to stock shelves and check out your purchases.  In other words, it’s a system built for waste and dangerously prone to collapse.

Stakes is High

Now for the darkness.

Why would the US establishment be so consistently and firmly opposed to feeding the poor and the homeless?  I would propose it’s because there’s an unspoken --- and occasionally explicit --- belief that these people are better off dead.  If that sounds alarmist or extreme, you have not been paying attention.

Hurricane Katrina aftermathLet’s take a look at Hurricane Katrina.  Although the storm ended more than a year ago, the devastation is ongoing and mostly swept under the rug of national consciousness.

First, read this --- very real --- excerpt from this Army Times article entitled “Troops Begin Combat Operations in New Orleans”:

NEW ORLEANS—Combat operations are underway on the streets “to take this city back” in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“This place is going to look like Little Somalia,” Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, commander of the Louisiana National Guard’s Joint Task Force told Army Times Friday as hundreds of armed troops under his charge prepared to launch a massive citywide security mission from a staging area outside the Louisiana Superdome. “We’re going to go out and take this city back. This will be a combat operation to get this city under control.”

Dozens of military trucks and up-armored Humvees left the staging area just after 11 a.m. Friday, while hundreds more troops arrived at the same staging area in the city via Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters.

“We’re here to do whatever they need us to do,” Sgt. 1st Class Ron Dixon, of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 1345th Transportation Company. “We packed to stay as long as it takes.”

While some fight the insurgency in the city, other carry on with rescue and evacuation operations....

Bear in mind, of course, that “the insurgency” was poor black people trying to get out before they died.  Hopefully this will give the reader a sense of what time it really is, here in 2006.

Finally, consider this particularly chilling excerpt from a Fox News article on the aftermath of Katrina:

Hurricane Katrina aftermathNew Orleans - Finis Shellnut is wealthy and he isn’t hiding it, even in the difficult times following the Katrina disaster. The 53-year-old real estate magnate sits in front of one of his buildings in the French Quarter, enjoying a chilled bottle of French champagne.

The man is a walking glitz machine, from the diamonds on his Rolex to his gold-framed glasses to the silver cross dangling on his chest under his half-open shirt. Shellnut is doing well these days, extremely well. He senses a lot of post-Katrina business coming his way. “Our party’s about to get going again,” he says. He sits next to a flyer depicting his face and advertising his phone number. “The storm destroyed a great deal,” he says, adding, with a smile, “and there’s plenty of space to build houses and sell them for a lot of money.”

Shellnut wasn’t particularly hard-hit by the storm and the flooding in New Orleans. “My real estate is in the city’s better neighborhoods,” he says, clearly pleased with himself, “a tree fell down here and there, but otherwise everything’s just fine.”

Despite all the chaos and destruction, the storm and the floods came with a silver lining for people like Shellnut. “Most importantly, the hurricane drove poor people and criminals out of the city,” he says, “and we hope they don’t come back.”

Shellnut has even conjured up ancient Gallic legend to support his theory of Katrina’s supposedly sanitizing effects. He says that the name “Katrina” once symbolized a kind of cleansing process that only leaves behind the purest elements of a society.

Jeff Wells has a very strange and interesting article: The Ballad of Finis Shellnut, which I highly recommend.

Feed Some Humans, Get Arrested

If you’re interested in getting involved, start here: Seven Easy Steps towards starting your own chapter.  Take the time to look over the official FNB website

10 responses to "Food Not Bombs: or, Free Bread and Soup is a National Threat"

  • avatar

    Nov 09, 2006 at 9:09 PM

    Nice work my friend, Chubba would be proud. I’ll get his email from Wainright and send him a link. I thought it was (honestly) but last time I tried it, the message bounced.

    one love

  • avatar

    Nov 09, 2006 at 9:28 PM


    This is the sort of thing that inspires me to help out organizations like Food Not Bombs and Crimethinc. To go out there and make a positive difference in an utterly insane and selfish culture.

    Keep the good work up, this is one of my favorite sites for every reason.

    ~Love everything~

  • avatar

    Nov 10, 2006 at 7:19 AM

    When I lived in San Francisco, Food Not Bombs was feeding people around the Civic Center and the Mayor constantly had them arrested for “not having health permits”.  I’m glad to see they’re growing and still providing help to those who need it. 

  • avatar

    Nov 10, 2006 at 6:43 PM
    Jan LightfootLane

    Howdy, I am with a nonprofit but want to tell about a legal action if have filed at Bangor Maine Federal District Court.

    Abuse in sports is more likely to be exposed by reporter than Governmental abuse of power against the poor. Reporters in Maine, are afraid of covering this important issue. Or they are discouraged by their bosses from covering the local hard news.

    I have case filed asking Unfair practices be examined by an impatial 3rd party, as the needless human suffering caused by an ongoing governmental unlawful practice, of misquoting indigent laws.

    This occurs not just in Maine alone, but this unlawful, Un-American act happens in some form in states through out this land.

    New England and nearly 15 or more other states has General Assistance, also called Town welfare in NH. and its called General relief in Mass. In fact in the last decade had an activist in PA exclaim how goods laws are applied badly, and bad laws are made worst. This happens with TANF and SSI and more. Have an acquaintance in WI who says Bad implementation of law happened there all the time.

    I am a homeless advocate who faces my own inability to assist others because towns reinvent the laws. To whimfully apply something bogus than what our State legislature enacted. This violated Due Process of law. It also violtes my 1st amendment right of association, and chosing a job. 

    The bad application of law, makes my legal aim of housing those about to be homeless more difficult. And this governmental intrusion does not serve any lawful purpose.

    Example:  Maine has an “emergency law.” When the person in need is or is about to be without one or more of life’s basic’s the income limits should be ignored, and the individual or the family should be assistant.

    Many towns declare’s the person or family “are not in an emergency” no matter what.  That is intentionally Bad application of the law. AND ITS CONTARY TO THE AMERICAN IDEAL OF LIBERTY.

    I would love to write a story for your online publication, based upon this very important case, I can tie it into to Natioal happenings because if this case were to precede to a full hearing, with evidence, it would be a landmark case. Much as NAACP vs. Alabama in 1958 was a case for coloreds This would be a case affected Governmental Treatment of the Poor, or the Underpaid of all skin tones.

  • avatar

    Jan 27, 2007 at 7:45 AM

    Thank you for reporting this horror.

    It is unreal and anti-Christ - this war on the poor and most of the churches and organzations other than Sojourners just ignore it and keep on voting the repugs in to continue the anti-christ war on the poor.

  • avatar

    Feb 07, 2007 at 3:44 PM
    Margo Babb

    It is interesting, although i would love to know your view on the increaseing poor population due to feeding the poor, as it is actually touched upon in Daniel Quinns book Ishmael.

  • avatar

    Feb 07, 2007 at 5:32 PM

    ^^Raise the quality of life, birth rate goes down.  Lower the quality of life, birth rate goes up.  Pretty simple.  Saying that feeding poor people makes the birth rate go up is barely-disguised eco-fascism to me.

  • avatar

    Feb 09, 2007 at 10:34 AM
    Margo Babb

    Yes, although if you feed the poor so that they dont die and stay in the same habitat that they are in.  They have sex create more human beings to the same habitat and walah more poor people.  Leave the poor people alone and let them find a way to take care of themselves.  They will either die or find away to sustain themselves. US helping famine relief in esence only hurts the people we are trying to help!

  • avatar

    Feb 09, 2007 at 4:00 PM

    First, it’s “VIOLA” not “walah”.  It’s a french word, not a sound effect.  Second of all, you’re not an eco-fascist—you’re just an asshole.  You might think you’re being pragmatic or objective or speaking cold hard facts, but you’ve got a book with talking psychic gorilla on your side and that’s about it.  Do some actual research and stop being an asshole.  “Poor people” is not a theoretical construct, THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS.  I’m not going to “leave them alone”—I’m going to help them any way I can.  Sad to see your soul it too atrophied to do the same.

  • avatar

    Feb 09, 2007 at 5:46 PM

    All these issues of government tyranny come down to this, they have every right to it. How so? Well look at how they pay off lawyers, judges and use the military and every other instituion to push their genocide. How can it be? Very simply the fact that you have a ss#, bank account,use private script circulated as money, and receive many many other benefits ,including acceptance of protectorate, from being a Citizen you are required, under contract, to do everything they say. This is why Federal Judges can laugh you out of court for bringing up the Con-stitution. If you want to take control of goods and services, property and taxes then do yourself a favor and get educated in Law wich is just a way of saying CONTRACT. Its like your mom saying “because i said so”. She is the master over you when you were young the same way the government is master over you because you havent grown up enough yet to know what is really going on let alone argue about it. If you really would like to have your eye lids stretched back over your head and pinned there to see whats going on visit or look up Montana Freemen. EDUCATE YOURSELF. All the remedy is right there for the taking folks. In fact it almost seems like these children of satan are just waiting for a responce. They are waiting, sitting there thinking good god, i cant beleive we are actually getting away with this. Take back our country, sever all ss adhesions, make proper notice to the officials of this Maritime corporation, get rid of drivers license and all other forms of ID. Then you can bitch. Not only can you bitch but you can DO SOMTHING ABOUT IT. Fact is right now you are chattle property, private property. You are stock. This is why you get slammed, because you do not have capasity in standing. You do not have the political jurisdition of your choice. How do these tyrants operate? One thing and one thing only allows it, your ignorance.

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