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The Anarchives (tao@lglobal.com)
Sat, 18 May 1996 20:47:38 +0000 (GMT)


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In 1980, anti-nuclear activists of the Camshel Alliance came
up with the idea of linking the issues of poverty and militarism.
One of the actions they organized was a soup kitchen set up
outside of the First National Bank Because of there role in
building the Seabrook Nuke and the weapons industry in New
England.

For promotion of that action, activists went around spray
painting corporate buildings with the tag "Food Not Bombs",
relaying the message that if the several billions allocated to
militarism and creating weapons of destruction were redistributed
to social spending, we could feed our hungry.

The soup kitchen was a great success. 300 hungry homeless
people were fed and a direct anti-militarism statement was made.
So it was there in Boston were the concept began and grew.

Several activists from the Camshel Alliance decided to put
their energies towards the concept of Food Not Bombs full time.
They used the facts presented by Francis-Lappe in her book "Diet
for a Small Planet". Lappe says that 10% of all edible food in
cities are thrown away.

This is where the concept of "Food Recycling" comes from.
Food not Bombs activists would go to grocers and ask for their
surplus food, or other foods deemed unsalable. This food would
then be redistributed to either soup kitchens or cooked up and
served by FNB activists in parks to homeless / hungry people.

The choice of food to serve too is politically motivated.
The group wanted to extend there views of non-violence to choice
of diet. Mainstream food production is an inherently violent
practice, involving the slaughter and abuse of billions of
animals, the death of feild workers, and the poisoning of our
air, water, soil and bodies with chemical fertilizers and
pesticides. These are a few reasons why FNB chooses to serve
organic vegan meals when ever possible.

The group, in its struggle against domination and
authority, works by consensus. Hierarchy is an inherently
aggressive practice, leading to violence and alienation.

The meal serving with its anti-poverty platform is a
place were other relevant issues are explored and acted
upon. A literature table is set up with such information,
including announcements for political actions organized by the
group or of other groups of solidarity.

It was with these ideas that FNB wishes to provide self
determination to the people who are left powerless by poverty,
asking them to get involved in the group and using it as a
vehicle for empowerment.

But it was with these ideas too which lead certain states to
a violent campaign of police and bureaucratic brutality against FNB
and it's volunteers.

In 1988 in San Francisco, California, under the rule of Mayor
Frank Jordan, the 3 Strikes law, and the Matrix program, police
repression of the group and homeless mounted.

FNB activists and homeless were beaten, arrested and
incarcerated for serving free food. The group's food
distribution program worked contrary to the state's "out of
sight, out of mind" policy against the homeless. So direct
oppression of the group was necessary.

But because of FNB's persistence and dedication to
non-violence, the group remains a fighting challenge to the
police state and corporate interests.

San Fransisco FNB has suffered well over 1000 arrests since
1988, costing millions of dollars. Amnesty International has
become an onlooker of the human rights abuses against them.

This does not remain an isolated case. There are over 120
FNB chapters globally, and several have been targeted by the
state. NY, Arcata and Knocksville chapters are a few to mention.

But aside from this phenomena of attacks on FNB, the attacks
on the homeless are a regular event here in North America. From
trying to "clean" up the streets of "undesirables" here in
Montreal for summer festivals, to the summer olympics in Atlanta;
the attack on the homeless community is going all out in the name
of corporate greed.

The second incarnation of Food Not Bombs here in Montreal
has been active for approximately one year now with regular
weekly summer servings in Berri Park on Sundays at 2pm. In
addition we remain active in other relevant issues that affect our
community, like Community Supported Agriculture, Feminism, and Social
/ Political Cabarets (are the major to mention at this point).

You can contact us here at Montreal Food Not Bombs at
521-5276 or drop by the Alternative Bookshop at 2035 St. Laurent
on the second floor.

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