Taking/making the food

… human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

Howard Zinn

An anti-capitalist politics of food is essential in the construction of autonomy.  Politics intervenes in its production, distribution, and/or consumption, and in the very understanding of the nature of food.  From agricultural cooperatives and communes, collective and self-managed urban gardens, to consumer food cooperatives, free self-managed food banks, to self-managed collective kitchens, freeganism: all are among the faces of autonomy.  If the hunger strike is a weapon of protest, the former protest, but also construct alternatives to the reigning commodification of food.

For over thirty years, beginning in the united states of america, but today with loosely associated, autonomous sections throughout the world, Food Not Bombs engages in such a radical politics of food.  Its history testifies to its ideals.

Food Not Bombs is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to nonviolent social change. Food Not Bombs has no formal leaders and strives to include everyone in its decision making process. Each group recovers food that would otherwise be thrown out and makes fresh hot vegan and vegetarian meals that are served in outside in public spaces to anyone without restriction. Many Food Not Bombs groups also share groceries and organize other efforts to support their communities. Each independent group also serves free meals at protests and other events.

 

Not surprisingly, such a politics has brought upon itself the wrath of power, with many local authorities endeavouring to restrict or ban the kind of solidarity (click here), and not charity that the movement advocates.  (Similar efforts have been made recently in spain, for instance, against the self-managed, collective food kitchen of the Tetuán 15M neighbourhood assembly of Madrid.  See: Periodico Diagonal).

 

The example of the Long Island Food Not Bombs group, both in its self-understanding and its practice, is worth sharing …

What is Long Island Food Not Bombs?

The aim of Food Not Bombs is to fight the social, economic and environmental oppressions that are inflicted upon our community and our planet.

Mainly we provide groceries, fresh food and warm meals to low income communities. All the food we distribute is completely vegetarian and mostly organic. We also collect clothing, books, toiletries and toys for redistribution as well. We have numerous guerrilla gardening programs that range from blanketing neighborhoods with sunflowers to providing families with peach trees.

Our goal, which is admittedly lofty, is to root out the roots of oppression in our community. Some of these roots include racism, sexism, war, environmental destruction, poverty, corporate greed, and government oppression. While these evils undoubtedly affect our collective lives each day they are not something we are powerless to stop.

Food Not Bombs is one of the largest, fastest growing and effective food distribution programs in the world. Currently there are hundreds if not thousands of chapters around the world. To find more about the greater Food Not Bombs movement

Background, History of Long Island Food Not Bombs:

Long Island has had numerous Food Not Bombs chapters for nearly two decades. However by 2005 all active chapters had effectively ceased. It was also a weird period in which almost all forms of radical youth activism had stopped, or at least stopped in the public sphere.

In the Spring of 2006 a newly formed Long Island Food Not Bombs was created by Co-founders Alex Witcowski and JonSTeps. Together with nearly a half dozen awesome activists they started setting up tables of groceries for fellow community members in areas across Long Island. Now Long Island Food Not Bombs is made up of dozens of volunteers who are supported by a community of Thousands.

Since its creation Long Island Food Not Bombs has become one of the largest food distribution organizations on Long Island (we think we’re the 2nd largest, but that’s not so important). In 2008 we shared over 750,000 pounds of groceries and Thousands of pounds of hot vegan meals, clothing, books, toys, educational materials and other essentials. Needless to say in 2009 we wish to break this record, if not double or triple it. But we can only do so with your help.

Food Not Bombs is about community empowerment. We don’t give out donations, we share food. We share food because it’s not ours to give out. Food is a Right and not a Privilege so as an organization, one of our roles is to stand in solidarity with local communities on Long Island and help protect our collective right to healthy food.

The Radical Super Market:

One of the things that is extraordinarily unique about Long Island Food Not Bombs is the sheer scale of what we do. People that come to LIFNB don’t just get some food, we share a good portion of what a person needs for a whole week. That means on most days folks can leave with 3 or 4 large bags of fresh organic groceries, (breads, fruits, veggies, protein, juice etc.)

When you come to a Long Island Food Not Bombs Food Share community members also share other necessities like clothing, books, toys, seeds, tools, literature. In essence our inevitable goal is to share everything someone might need for their week, their job, their family and their lives.

This massive assortment of free stuff also attracts crowds of Hundreds at a time and because of the sheer volume of food, materials, and people we often run our Food Not Bombs Chapters like Radical Super Markets.

It goes like this, over the area of a city block we have tables separated into sections and individually specified for various items like bread, fruits and veggies, sweets, frozen foods, grocery items, clothing, community supported literature and hot vegan meals. If you come to a Food Share and only need clothing then you can just go to the clothing area, if you only want fruits you can go to that area, and so on.

We also try and have numerous cool folks throughout the crowd and at the tables who can help you find what you’re looking for.

The Support of Local Businesses _ We Support Local Business

Food is a Right, and It’s about time we as a society make it so. Food Not Bombs helps share free food, a vast majority we get from local businesses and we don’t wish to leave these folks out in the wind.

We are able to do what we do in part because of a vast array of businesses who share food with us. And we at Long Island Food Not Bombs wish to support these businesses as much as we can. We believe that if a business supports its community that it’s only right for the community to support that business. As we say, when people spend money they’d prefer to do so at a place that’s taken care of their neighbors.

We encourage all of our supporters to support the businesses that make what we do possible….. ya….

The Future, hopes of Health care, Housing and Schools… hey they’re Essential Human Rights too.

It is our goal to branch Long Island Food Not Bombs into a conduit that helps folks find free/ affordable housing, healthcare and a force that encourages real community based education. These services are Human Rights and only by supporting these rights will we be creating communities that can overcome poverty, hunger and social & political oppression.

You can’t make your life better if you spend all your time looking for food, and the same is true if you spend all your time sick, without a home or without the tools of literature and mathematics.

Knowledge is power and real power to change or communities, countries and world will come from the people who live within them. In this sense social services are some of the most important tools of change we can create.

 

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