Thursday, May 28, 2015

35th Anniversary of Food Not Bombs Celebrated by Hundreds in Santa Cruz

By combining social and environmental justice activism, nonviolent direct action, and a philosophy that emphasizes sharing over charity, Food Not Bombs has differentiated itself from other global organizations that distribute food to the hungry. These distinctions were especially evident at the organization's 35th anniversary gathering in Santa Cruz on May 24, where those needing nourishment were greeted with live music and an especially celebratory atmosphere, in addition to the free food, a free market, and a variety of other free services.

Food Not Bombs is comprised of hundreds of autonomous, volunteer-supported chapters that share free vegetarian meals with the hungry around the globe. There are no leaders running Food Not Bombs; local groups use the consensus process.

The organization first formed in response to the arrest of anti-nuclear activist Brian Feigenbaum at the May 24, 1980 occupation attempt of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station. The original collective, comprised of Keith McHenry, Jo Swanson, Mira Brown, Susan Eaton, Brian Feigenbaum, C.T. Lawrence Butler, Jessie Constable and Amy Rothstien, organized "Bake Sales to Buy A Bomber" street theater to raise funds for Feigenbum's legal effort, and to increase awareness about his case and the dangers of nuclear power.

In Santa Cruz, Food Not Bombs began sharing food at the Clock Tower downtown in 1988. At that time Food Not Bombs volunteers were beginning to experience a massive crackdown in San Francisco, with many arrests. In total, the city arrested over 1,000 people for sharing food during this time period, and Amnesty International declared the volunteers "prisoners of conscience." Among those arrested early on was the organization's co-founder Keith McHenry, who himself would eventually be arrested 94 times for sharing food.

The Santa Cruz chapter has gone through many changes over the years, and has served food at locations all over the downtown, as well as at political protests and other events such as court hearings. The anniversary party was held in front of the downtown post office, where Food Not Bombs has shared meals on the weekends for several years now.

Hundreds of meals were shared over the course of the six hour celebration. A private solar shower booth was set up, and stylists cut people's hair for free. Books, clothing, and plant starts were available as part of the free market. A number of bands and musicians performed together and separately, and social justice organizations set up informational tables.

Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry was in attendance, and his birthday was also incorporated into the celebration. Food Not Bombs volunteers joined hands with other revelers to capture and roll McHenry into a giant human cinnamon bun.

Keith McHenry at the Food Not Bombs table.

Jozseph Schultz of India Joze restaurant fires up the wok.

Curtis Reliford of Follow Your Heart Action Network volunteers.

Free haircuts.

Shower booth with the Santa Cruz Clock Tower in the background.

Solar shower.

Dru Glover of Project Pollinate.

Brent Adams of the Santa Cruz Warming Center.

Free books.

Homeless United for Friendship and Freedom (HUFF).

Abbi Samuels speaks as Keith McHenry looks on.

Rolling Keith McHenry into a giant cinnamon bun.

Thank you to the donors.

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