Letter from Arcata Food Not Bombs to the "Co-op"

This letter was recieved by email. I decided to just leave all the funny type-o doo-dads in there. I think that the meaning is clear.


December 6, 2006

Dear Arcata Co-Op,

The North Coast Co-Op, Arcata Store, is one of several sources from which Food Not Bombs (FNB) gleans food. FNB is an effort to feed anyone who is hungry in an open, respectful way. Many FNB volunteers are committed to non-violent social change through the celebration and nurturing of life by preparing and giving out free vegetarian or vegan food –some volunteers help out on occasion, as a way of being part of a compassionate community, meeting a concrete need, and “giving back.”

Locally and elsewhere, Food Not Bombs has a long tradition of conscious and sanitary food preparation and service. Volunteers are well-known for prioritizing dignity in their food sharing and diligent standards of cleanliness. Arcata FNB has been continuously serving at least once a week for over four years with out any complaints of food poisoning. FNB volunteers spend many hours preparing, cleaning, transporting, serving and eating each free community meal.

Food Not Bombs is a loose-knit group of independent collectives all over the world, most concentrated in North America. FNB ideology maintains that myriad corporate and government priorities allow hunger to persist in the midst of abundance. While there is enough food in the world to feed everyone (likewise in Arcata), so much food goes to waste intentionally and/or needlessly as a direct result of capitalism and militarism. FNB tries to call attention to poverty and homelessness, the results of these oppressive, violent systems, by sharing food in public places and facilitating the gathering of poor, homeless, and other disenfranchised people. Most of the food served by FNB is healthy surplus food that would otherwise go to waste as well generous donations from individuals in the community. FNB invites people who eat FNB meals to be involved in providing the food themselves. Food Not Bombs does not make people jump through bureaucratic hoops or punish anyone for being poor, but rather fosters empowerment and self-determination.

Food Not Bombs in Arcata has an her/history that includes subjection to police repression, arrests for serving free food on the Plaza, and success in overcoming prohibitive city action, through persistent dedication to feeding hungry people. Vincent of the Arcata Co-Op requested a letter from Food Not Bombs and has articulated 3 conditions upon which FNB volunteers can again receive Co-Op ‘throw-away’ food and, in turn, feed many people.

The 3 conditions are purported to be in response to the Co-Op’s claims that it received a complaint– that produce was found on the Plaza. Apparently, the presumption is that 1) the produce was donated by the Co-Op to FNB, and 2) FNB is somehow responsible.

The 3 conditions that Vincent has ‘mandated’ (apparently on behalf of the Co-Op) in order for FNB to receive donations again are:

1) that three people, regular FNB pick-up volunteers, present their ID’s and confirm that they will be the sole designated receivers of Co-Op donations;

2) that any food be picked up on the Plaza after FNB meals, and;

3) that the donated food be cooked in a ‘certified-to-code’ kitchen.

As community members and as volunteers committed to service and sharing, we hope that the Co-Op will defend against the systematic violence of poverty and acknowledge the presence in our local communities of poor individuals and families, and respect their needs.

Here are our responses to the 3 requests:

1) Because we understand and respect your need to be familiar with people who are picking up food donations, we will designate 3 consistent FNB volunteers to do pick-ups, and we will make sure that you are introduced to any ‘new’ people who may, in the future, replace one of the “three” taking on the task of pick-ups.

2) Rest assured that we will see to it that food and garbage resulting from our FNB community meals will be picked up from the Plaza and at any other serving sites to the best of our ability before leaving the site of our FNB event.

3) Regarding the request that we prepare our community meals in a ‘certified’ kitchen, we find this request unreasonable. The method of food preparation for our events is our concern. Our food preparation is adequate and appropriate and always has been. Moreover, our food preparation is neither legally nor otherwise relevant to the Co-Op or to its expressed concern(s).

We are hopeful that donations of food from the Co-Op will immediately resume, as homeless folks are at this time especially in need of healthy, cooked meals. For some, such meals are critical to their very survival.

If you believe that further negotiations are required with Food Not Bombs, we request that you not withhold food donations during that process. The Endeavor has cut back services during the most severe weather time of year, now more than ever FNB is needed for the survival and dignity of hungry people in Arcata.


the Local Food Not Bombs Community

[Then there was a written note that said something like (but more eloquent): “If someone requests food for Food Not Bombs who has not been previously designated to do pick-ups, please ask her/him to call 822-4014 so that we can coordinate.”– This was added to assuage that horrendous worry that different people may request food to make free meals.]


2 Responses to “Letter from Arcata Food Not Bombs to the "Co-op"”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    thought I read somewhere that FNB had recently stopped serving food on the plaza. Is that true? think it said a FNB server was threatened or verbally abused by a recipient.

  2. the PLAZOID Says:

    I am sure that being verbally abused by a recipient of FNB has not lead to an end to FNB meals. That happens all the time. there are thank yous and drunken nasties too, it’s all just part of it.

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