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Rebels With Rice: Understanding Food Not Bombs

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Its a hot Wednesday afternoon in Lake Eola park.  On the intersection of Eola and Central a ragged band of roughly fifty people sit under a large oak in circle of blue tables and chairs.  In the adjourning parking lot there are several cop cars watching the crowd.  A quiet sense of tired anticipation hangs in the air.  A little after five a car pulls into the parking lot, right across from the cops.  Several people pile out with pots and trays, a small group from the oak tree approach to help bring the load into the park.  Four tables are pulled from the circle to hold the waited for goods, and the crowd lines up to be served.

Its just another week for Food Not Bombs in their renegade crusade to fight hunger in the Orlando area.  Recently they have gained the attention of the local media for standing up against the local ordinance that seeks to restrict the sharing of food in the downtown parks.  However, Food Not Bombs has been serving at Lake Eola for over a year and half, well before the ordinance was proposed, let alone enforced.
As the driving force in the Stop The Ordinance Partnership, they have united local activists, homeless men and women to fight against discrimination directed towards the 8,500 without homes here in Orlando.  But who are these outspoken food warriors?

Food Not Bombs is a loose nit national organization of anarchists who have made it their primary mission to feed the masses.  They are quick to point out that our society makes more than enough food to feed its population, yet much of it is wasted.  To prove their point they serve food that would have otherwise have been thrown out.  They receive generous donations from local Paneras and Whole Foods, to supplement the large stock of food they save from being garbage.  They have set up a very professional  practice of collecting food from local restaurants and markets that can be cleaned and safely consumed.

Food Not Bombs cooks the food  they collect every Wednesday prior to serving it in the late afternoon.  They serve healthy vegan (not containing animal flesh or by products of animals ) cuisine, usually containing a mixture of stew, vegetables, rice, beens, and lentils.  A particular crowd favorite is the potato pierogi, a sort of polish potato croquette, which are snapped up as quickly as they are served.

Since a group may only serve 24 people at any one time, Food Not Bombs is joined by other groups from the STOP partnership.  The groups that serve on a regular basis downtown are the Young Communist League, CodePink, and the Orlando Progressive Alliance.  These groups bring items such as utensils, plates, juice, and cookies.  The total amount served tends to range between fourty to fifty homeless, with an additional ten to twenty volunteers.  Even with the large group to feed, in the year I have been involved, not a single person has been turned away.  Furthermore, I have always observed a surplus of  food at the end of each event.  Food Not Bombs distributes the surplus, in addition to other goods, in Paramore during their Free Supermarket Day each Thursday.

As an anarchist group Food Not Bombs tends to be maligned as being violent and antisocial.  Their opposition among the developers and wealthy downtown residents has taken every opportunity to paint the group in such a manner.  However, except for violating a noise ordinance at an anti-dyer protest (mayor Dyer is a major proponent of the ordinance against food sharing), and the arrest of Eric Montenez for “utilizing a ladle to serve 30 people”, no other charges have been brought against Food Not Bombs members.  They believe that anarchy is not about creating disorder and chaos, but rather that all people are equal, and that no person or institution has the right to assert their beliefs onto others.

While I might find their political ideology to be a bit to idealistic, their actions are both grounded and noble.  They prove that we can already feed all Americans, and give hope to our ability to feed the world.  Their activities show what can happen if we spend less on killing people and more on feeding people.  I urge you to become part of the potential of a new, more caring America.  Come any Wednesday, at the intersection of Central and Eola, around five.  Fill your belly, and open your heart.

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Written by jackofspades83

October 5, 2007 at 7:41 pm

Posted in Social Justice

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