Who they are: Food Not Bombs (FNB) is a platform for anyone in the community to adopt with the goal to provide free vegan or vegetarian food. FNB supports the belief that food is a right and not a privilege. There are chapters all over the world where local community members volunteer their time to collect, cook, and serve food with the dedication to non-violence and social justice1. There is a chapter in Hamilton, Ontario called Food Not Bombs Hamilton (FNBH). FNBH functions as an OPIRG (Ontario Public Interest Research Group) working group and receives funding from OPIRG McMaster. Every year, $7.65 of McMaster’s undergraduate tuition goes to OPIRG which is then used to support groups like Fossil Free Mac and Community Volunteer Action. Food Not Bombs receives $250.00 from OPIRG which is used to supply bowls, utensils, spices, and oils which are harder to obtain via donation.
What they do: FNBH collects, dumpster dives, or receives food donation. This year, FNBH has access to a kitchen in the YWCA on an agreement with a non-profit organization called “At the Table”. “At the Table” aims provide food to the women living in transitional housing situated above YWCA. The condition for FNBH to use the kitchen at YWCA is that they first provide the food they prepare to the women living in the transitional housing before they serve it on the street. Interestingly, the women in transitional housing had shown interest in getting involved which aligns with the one of the outcomes of FNBH- to connect community members that would otherwise not be possible. It is difficult to connect with fellow community members especially when members are segregated by age, gender, and social economic status. FNBH brings people in all walks of life together with the shared passion and compassion for food.
Vision: It is to be emphasized that FNBH operates on the other polar end to capitalism. In the capitalist system, food is earned through money and money is earned through work. Imagine working at a minimum-pay job just so you could earn enough to feed yourself. The capitalist system does not provide alternatives leaving people to work and invest their time into these jobs RATHER than into something more meaningful. FNBH aims to provide alternatives for people to access food.
How it’s done: FNBH operates under the principle of consensus. Consensus is a form of group decision making2 which involves the consent of everyone in the group. It gives every member an equal amount of power in the group; everyone should come to the same decision in a consensus. In group meetings, everyone has a role such as a group facilitator, note-taker, or minute-minder. Specific roles are determined by group members. For every group meeting, the roles will shift between people such that everyone gets a chance to experience each role. It is important to emphasize that FNBH uses consensus decision-making because it is not one person who operates the group, it is everyone. This system provides resiliency because if it was one main person spearheading FNBH, it will collapse once that person leaves. Interestingly, FNBH had been revived several times which shows just how robust consensus could be.
What YOU can do: You can join a chapter in your local community (Visit http://www.foodnotbombs.net/contacts.html for a list of active chapters). Anyone can start a chapter. There is no size restriction and the chapter could consist of 1 person or 10 people. You can even do this in your driveway with some extra food from your grocery shopping. It is simple and can be done by people of all ages. Food Not Bombs is an idea that anyone can take to better their community and the world. It is robust as it does not depend on a single person but on the interest of people.
Starting a group: http://www.foodnotbombs.net/seven.html
Locating a chapter near you: http://www.foodnotbombs.net/contacts.html
FNBH has been serving weekly. Updates and current activities can be seen on their FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/126771624140883/
You will save the Earth by sharing and/or tweeting (corny right?)