Food Not Bombs at the heart and stomach of a movement

Feeding the occupations one meal at a time.

By Keith McHenry, October 16, 2011

We saw the AP article “Feeding the masses, fueling a movement” by Helen O’Neill and felt it was time to share a little secret about the occupations. One point missed in her article was the role of Food Not Bombs in helping organize the ” feeding of the masses” and its role in “fueling the movement.” Food Not Bombs volunteers have been busy collecting, buying and cooking for occupations all over the United States and the world. We started organizing a monthly occupation in May when we believed the city of Orlando, Florida might start arresting our volunteers for sharing food in violation of their large group feeding law. Many other Florida cities were suggesting they would introduce their own large group feeding laws and we hope to seek an end to the criminalization of poverty and support the rights of the poor by organizing occupations. Organizers in Orlando were arrested June 1, 2011 minutes before the first occupation started. Police also broke up the occupation attempt in Ft Lauderdale. Solidarity protest were held in many other cities including Milan, Italy, Detroit, Michigan, Melbourne, Australia and Ponti, Indonesia

Food Not Bombs has a long history of supporting and promoting the occupation of public space in protest to the economic and political system of exploitation. We provided food at the occupations in San Francisco and New York City in 1989 , the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas, and the 600 day farmer’s action at the Bosnia and Herzegovina Square in Sarajevo.

The process of the general assemblies and the use of consensus has in part its origins in the anti- nuclear and Woman’s movement and was adopted by Food Not Bombs at its founding in 1980. Food Not Bombs has introduced consensus to tens of thousands of young activists over the past 30 years and many of those participating in the occupations have been practicing the use of this decision making process at their regular Food Not Bombs meetings for most of their activist lives. We are sure if you talk to many of the young people involved in the occupations they will be happy to say they first learned this process from their participation in Food Not Bombs. Feel free to ask them.

As for the kitchens Food Not Bombs was helping organize the food for the Washington DC Occupation since May and started to post an announcement for the occupation on the index page of our website the week before we were first arrested for sharing meals in Orlando. We posted the Adbuster’s call for Occupy Wall Street on our website the day they emailed out their suggestion. We emailed news of these occupations to our several thousand supported. We also emailed our media list. You may have received this email from us your self back in mid-July.

Our Taos office ordered over $500 worth of organic short grain brown rice in early September from United Natural Foods in Denver. I drove that rice across the United States dropping off bags at Occupy Chicago, Occupy Wall Street and Occupy DC. I was involved in helping organize kitchens at a number of occupations and worked with the New York Food Not Bombs kids on providing logistical support and the preparation of the meals at Wall Street and helped Food Not Bombs groups in Chicago, Washington DC and Philadelphia. I will be helping in Boston this week.

Food Not Bombs volunteers have been calling and emailing me from all over the world for information on how best to organize the kitchens. We had calls from Spokane, West Palm Beach, Tucson, LA, Washington DC, Boston, Ft Lauderdle, Tampa, Boise, Portland, Santa Fe, El Paso, St Louis, Columbia and many other cities in the United States. Food Not Bombs volunteers are also supporting occupations in London, Lisbon, Toronto and many other cities outside the United States.

Food Not Bombs has intentionally down played our role in supporting the occupations in an effort to encourage people participating in the actions to make their own decisions and to assure that the protests grow based on the desires of everyone involved. Many people have been urging us to admit our role in supporting this movement so we are providing you with some additional details.

Supplies needed for each occupation

Occupation Campaign adopted at the Florida Food Not Bombs Gathering May 22, 2011

The website calling for an occupation in Washington DC in 2008 with an account of the history of Food Not Bombs participation in past occupations.

Occupation food support flyer

Food Not Bombs consensus flow chart FLOW CHART.pdf

HUNGRY FOR PEACE – How you can help end poverty and war with Food Not Bombs (A book that details the use of consensus and other aspects seen at the occupations)


Food Not Bombs Founder Keith McHenry Tours “Occupy Wall Street” Protests (VIDEO)

Food Not Bombs digs into dumpsters to feed Occupy Toronto

Amid Oct. protests: What is it like to live in Freedom Plaza?

A Shifting Landscape, ‘Occupy’ Movement Gives Voice To Economic Frustration,0,6378734.story

Occupiers vow to stay on Vancouver Art Gallery lawn -Rally to support Wall Street protest faces bylaw hurdles

Slideshow: Life at Occupy Portland

Phoenix joins Occupy Wall Street protests against corporate greed

Occupiers Not Budging in Halifax

Many occupiers new to activism but firm in their resolve

Louisville grants corporate protesters permit to occupy downtown park until New Year’s Eve

SFPD raids OccupySF camp, seizes gear, but protesters remain

A snapshot of Occupy Oakland

Anti-Wall Street Protests Spreading to Cities Large and Small

Donate to feed the occupations

Feeding the masses, fueling a movement by Helen O’Neill ( A story that ignores the role of Food Not Bombs )


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