If distributed equally, the world produces enough food to feed everyone. There is an abundance of food. In fact, in this country, every day, in every city, far more edible food is discarded than is needed to feed those who do not have enough to eat.
The reason this is not already happening is no accident. We do not have a democratic say in how food is produced or distributed. People would certainly elect to eat. In hierarchical economies, the threat of the loss of a job allows owners to keep wages low. An underclass is the result of policies which encourage domination and violence. In our society, it is acceptable to profit from other people’s suffering and misery.
Poverty is violence. One expression of the violence of poverty is hunger. Millions of Americans, almost half children, go hungry every day and childhood malnutrition contributes heavily to infant mortality rates, which are higher in parts of the U.S. than in most other nations of the world. By spending money on bombs instead of food, our government perpetuates and exacerbates the violence of poverty by failing to provide food for everyone in need. Food Not Bombs has chosen to take a stand against violence. We are committed to nonviolent social change by giving out free vegetarian food thus celebrating and nurturing life.
Food Not Bombs was recently approached and asked to cook at the Arcata Endeavor on Saturdays where there is plenty of food that would otherwise go unprepared and unserved on weekends. This is in addition to FNB’s meals served throughout the week that are cooked in the homes of volunteers. It was discussed and decided that it would be tried.
For several months now, there has been healthy vegetarian food served at 1:00 pm on Saturdays at the Endeavor (at no extra cost to taxpayers), and there are still enough volunteers to prepare and serve dinner at 5:30 pm on the plaza. Many of the volunteers now cooking lunch at the Endeavor on Saturdays were not previously affiliated with Food Not Bombs.
These events make clear that the facilities exist for those in need to be given the opportunity to help themselves. Instead of acquiring large sums of money to study the obvious lack of basic necessities, and spending lots of money hiring people who reinforce the separations between service providers and service recipients, Arcata could allow the already existing facilities to be used by those who are willing to volunteer to provide services to themselves and others. The costs of operation (utilities, supplies) could be covered by the money saved.
Not only would this less-hierarchical approach save money, and time spent to acquire that money, but it would also set an example of this historically tested and trusted method of social planning that involves less professional authoritarianism, and the actual meeting of more needs. The D Street Neighborhood Center is a perfect place to open up. Currently is sits locked and empty most of the time.
The direct action of preparing and sharing meals helps to relieve some of the pressures that create tensions in our community. Healthy and nutritious meals provide relief from the immediate discomfort and anxiety of being hungry, and prevent the long-term negative effects of malnutrition. For those overwhelmed by the cost of living in today’s society, FNB’s free meals provide relief from the competition for ever more scarce dollars.
Preparing meals together is a good way to engage our innate ability to get along and work cooperatively to meet our common needs. By addressing the issue of hunger directly, FNB also demonstrates our ability to solve community problems from within the community.