Collectives and non-profits feed the hungry. Some people want to make it illegal.

Why do some people in Orlando, Florida, want to outlaw feeding people who are hungry? Why do some people in Orlando, Florida, want to target people who provide people who are hungry for criminal protection as "food terrorists."? What's in the water? Perhaps Alex Jones knows?

Have you ever seen folks serving food to houseless people in public parks on Sunday? Sometimes the groups are affiliated with a church, and other times a non-profit or a city-funded entity.

Food Not Bombs (FNB) has been cooking vegetarian food for people who are hungry, do not have a place to live and sleep safely, or during street protests, marches, or gatherings since 1980. What first began in Cambridge, MA, USA, with a small group of people interested in peace and social justice issues has now grown into a global movement of volunteers dedicated to providing accessible, healthy food to hungry people. FNB has been targeted for harassment by lawmen, lawyers, land speculators, and legislatures since at least 1988.

The name Food Not Bombs emerged when anti-nuclear political activists Jo Swanson, Mira Brown, Susan Eaton, Brian Feigenbaum, C.T. Lawrence Butler, Jessie Constable, and Amy Rothstein joined with Keith McHenry to feed people and realized that the park they were serving food in was across the street from a university/military lab that researched atomic weapons.

"When a billion people go hungry each day, how can we spend another dollar on war? Food Not Bombs is an all-volunteer movement that recovers food that would otherwise be discarded, and shares free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry in over 1,000 cities in 65 countries in protest to war, poverty, and destruction of the environment. We are not a charity but dedicated to taking nonviolent direct action. Our movement has no headquarters or positions of leadership and we use the process of consensus to make decisions. We also provide food and supplies to the survivors of natural disasters, and people participating in occupations, strikes, marches and other protests."

Back to Florida. "On August 3, 2007, according to the Brower Palm Beach New Times, "[Jadis] Mercado says that Fort Lauderdale police broke up their (FNB) festivities and threatened to arrest the FnB crew if it returned (a police representative could not be reached for comment). Despite the risk, the collective showed up the following week – only this time with over 150 supporters in tow." This began a back-and-forth battle between law enforcement, legislatures, and lawyers, on the one hand, and people wanting to feed people on the other, that lasted a decade. Ordinances were passed to make it illegal to feed people without an expensive permit. In 2007, First Vagabonds Church of God (Church for homeless people), An Unincorporated Association, and Brian Nicholssued the City of Orlando, Florida, for violating their First Amendment Rights as a part of protected political speech and religious activity. They initially won the case, but the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision in 2011. This did not stop Food Not Bombs.

Food Not Bombs collectives are coming together to address the needs of their community and, at the same time, demonstrate the state's bankruptcy to provide for basic needs and the ideological refusal to spend money on society. With an excess of empty housing, why are so many people without a place to live? The typical answer, inherited through ideology and history, is that people are lazy, do not work hard enough, do not take advantage of the possibilities and opportunities in a capitalist society, and are to blame for not having a home or food. It's not policies that favor property owners and landlords with multiple units; it's not that private property is; it's not how people play monopoly with the land; it's (the myth of) lazy people.

The actions of FNB volunteers speak for themselves. Addressing housing and food precarity by providing food for folks who might not have a home. Taking the excess from society and repurposing it to help feed people reveals levels of waste, the bankruptcy of manufactured scarcity, and the decadence and disregard for human life that a culture based on parasitic consumption. A practice of direct democracy, FNB has not only provided nutritional sustenance but political analysis about why homelessness, poverty, hunger and continue to exist in the wealthiest republic in the history of the universe. During the Occupy Movement, FNB provided continuity with previous cycles of struggle and an example of DIY necessity.

Each FNB collective works in its own manner – decision-making, connecting with other groups or local businesses, herding resources, navigating the various jurisdictions (parks, city, municipal, private), and determining what to serve and when. Some have even altered the name. For example, in Corpus Christi, Tx, USA, the project is called Tacos Not Bombs. In addition to providing food and "survival packs" for folks who do not have a place to live that is safe and secure, Street Books is a mobile lending library project that works with Tacos Not Bombs.

Check out this video about the 35th Anniversary of the founding of FNB.

Click here for seven simple steps to start an FNB chapter. You can order a starter kit here.

Co-Founder Keith McHeny has penned and illustrated the book Hungry for Peace. "This new 188-page Food Not Bombs handbook with 122 photos and illustrations, vegan recipes to provide meals for groups of 100 and families of 6 people with metric and U.S. measurements, the 30-year history of the movement and logistics on how to start a local Food Not Bombs group, how to prepare meals for hundreds, how to organize meetings, tours, gatherings and successful campaigns of nonviolent direct action."

A Mass Conspiracy to Feed the People: Food Not Bombs and the World-Class Waste of Global Cities, by David Boarder Giles, a researcher and FNB volunteer, explores the history and impact of FNB. "Beginning in urban dumpsters, Giles traces the logic by which perfectly edible commodities are nonetheless thrown out—an act that manufactures food scarcity—to the social order of "world-class" cities, the pathways of discarded food as it circulates through the FNB kitchen, and the anticapitalist political movements the kitchen represents. Describing the mutual entanglement of global capitalism and anticapitalist transgression, Giles captures those emergent forms of generosity, solidarity, and resistance that spring from the global city's marginalized residents."

If you prefer podcasts, check out Green Dreamer EP 333 that features David Boarder Giles. "A Mass Conspiracy to Feed Each Other."

"Even the most conservative economist will tell you that capitalism requires structural unemployment to keep inflation down. The economy is based on some people not having work, which means that we have a class system built into capitalism: we need some people to be a little bit hungry, a little bit desperate for work, in order to keep the whole economy ticking."

Capitalism creates inequality, manufactures scarcity and waste, destroys nature, relies on governments and violence to keep wages low, and then weaponizes discourses of possessive individualism and (a myth of) meritocracy to gaslight people into blaming themselves – only.