e a s t b a y
about east bay food not bombs
East Bay Food Not Bombs started in February, 1991, with people from Seeds of Peace, Copwatch, and the Berkeley Free Clinic pitching in to get it going. We began serving food in People's Park, Lafayette Park, and at anti-Gulf War rallies. By the beginning of that summer the Gulf War had ended, and all hell broke loose in People's Park. That historic piece of land in Berkeley became our focus.
Cooking was done at a great many places, and for a while took place solely at the Chateau Student Co-op. Since then we have branched out to cook at various collective houses and co-ops.
We still serve five meals a week at People's Park, and added a sixth when we were invited to serve at the Sutter Hotel in downtown Oakland. On Saturday, we do a food give away of our surplus food, and fresh picked farmers market donatations at Oldman's Park at ~12th and Jefferson in Oakland.
We cook in solidarity with other progressive groups at countless demonstrations, cultural events, and gatherings over the years, including recently, Anti-war efforts in the streets, CopWatch events, Biodiesel Collective Benefits, Reclaim the Streets, Mayday, Critical Resistance and events speaking to the insidious nature of the prison-industrial complex. Planners of the event will often ask us to provide snacks, a meal, or more. Sometimes, if there's a demo for a cause that's close to our hearts we'll just show up with a pot of hot food or bagels and lemonade.
Starving artists, poor radicals, punks, homeless people, mothers with young children, college students, Berkeley tourists, and even local storekeepers eat with us. For more than twelve years East Bay Food Not Bombs has enjoyed the support of the community, and seldom has been hassled by the police.
Why we volunteer for East Bay Food Not Bombs
In a society based on the exploitation of honesty and the destruction of the integrity of the natural world, we cook and share donated food because the very act of giving has become revolutionary.
It is so foreign to our ways of understanding that it seems an anomaly in the age of the personal computer and private transportation that we are trying to create a sustainable and healthy communal free food resource.
A common phrase that most food sharers will use to describe their motivations for volunteering time to feed people is that it's "community building." A community's strength is its health, and since food is the foremost medicine, we choose to heal people with a diet that would be beneficial, even to a cancer patient. We serve grains and beans, organic if possible, fresh produce (if it's not fresh, it's certainly ripe!), and no additives or preservatives in our daily, fresh-cooked vegan meals.
We see this process of community building in a holistic way: we are a very important part of the larger vision of People's Park; the benefits of free, vegan food to that community, and the participatory nature of the consensus process that provides it are social, emotional, and spiritual. This means that it's good for people to work together for a common goal. It is our practical prayer that no one will go hungry today...we can't live without community.
In many ways FNB is like a family, and often enough will evidence the illnesses that pervade our existence. We are not impermeably good, but rather human beings, unique individuals. We do this because we ALL need to be healed. It is a challenging, creative process because it often relies on these tenuous, even transitory relationships with what seems to be random individuals. These relationships may sometimes be transitory but they are only as shallow as we make them...there is a deep well of understanding that can be shared with the food.
We are called Food Not Bombs! because we are opposed to violence in any form. We are most opposed to this institutionalized, corporatized, monopolized, and completely depersonalized violence that upholds the moral wreck that we call a government. We don't deny that cooking food for the masses is hard work, but we know that it is better than throwing ourselves into the maelstrom of the war machine.
We are there when the police are applying pepper spray directly to the eyes of non-violent protesters. We are there when they are trying to cut the last stands of unprotected old-growth forest. We are there when they are trying to dump nuclear waste in unlined trenches in the Mojave Desert. We are there when a multinational corporation is perpetrating a complicated legal fraud to divest many thousands of Navajo people of the land they were born on. We are there to protest institutionalized violence not just against people, but against plants, trees, animals, ecosystems, the earth itself. When we share food we are protesting against violence to consciousness.
We hope that you will share with us. Please come to the free food servings around 2:30 in People's Park every weekday, and at 14th & Jefferson in downtown Oakland by the Sutter Hotel.