Butler, C.T. & Keith McHenry. FOOD, NOT BOMBS. See Sharp Press,Arizona. USA

By Theresa Wolfwood


“This slogan requires no complicated analysis. The three words “say it all.” They point unerringly to the double challenge: to feed immediately people who are without adequate food, and to replace a system whose priorities are power and profit with one meeting the needs of all human beings.”             

 Howard Zinn in the introduction


  Food Not Bombs (fnb) a much misunderstood and persecuted movement, started and continues with the philosophy that there is enough food in the world for everyone; the problem is distribution. The idea that everyone should have sufficient food and that it is available is seemingly too revolutionary for our profit-based system to accept. The amount of food that is wasted daily could feed everyone. So this group started over twenty years ago by collecting food that would be wasted – from stores, markets etc. – and preparing free food for the public. Food was and continues to be served free in public places and at activist events.


Keith McHenry, one of the founders of the movement and co-author of this book, visited Victoriato meet with Victoriafnb and interested activists; he said the movement continues to grow and is now on every continent and major country. This book is both an explanation of the policy and structure of fnb, as well as a practical guide to setting up a fnb, including vegan recipes for large numbers. Although it is a non-hierarchical, movement with independent groups, fnb groups are committed to serving vegetarian, mainly vegan, food; the original concern about spoilage of meat product was reinforced by the aim not to support corporate animal production and killing. Vegan food is more plentiful and can distribute the plenty more equitably.


The connection to militarization is also key to understanding fnb. It is a philosophy for life and by rejecting the military it emphasizes a culture of life and peace. Although many fnb activists have been arrested, assaulted, beaten and jailed for giving away food, the philosophy also embraces non-violence in all its activities. Groups accept no government or major corporate funding; small local donations are welcome. Without any outside dependence or individual leadership roles, the groups are less vulnerable and able to continue with whatever resources they can gather.


Distribution of food at peace, environment and social justice groups is one way of making links with other social action groups;Victoriafnb gives extra food collected to shelters and other organizations and often serves at peace and activist rallies; I first encountered them on International Women’s Day in March.


The authors say, “It will take imagination and work to create a world without bombs. Food Not Bombs recognizes our part as providing sustenance for people at demonstrations and events so they can continue participating in the long-term struggle against militarism…We work against the perspective of scarcity that causes many people to fear cooperation among groups…we try to encourage feelings of abundance and recognition that if we cooperate together, all will become stronger.”


A place of distribution world wide is near the biggest fast food chain outlets.

That perspective is honoured by fnb inVictoria; the group gives food away every Sunday at 3:30 pm under the sequoia at Pandora & Vancouver – across that location which sells fast ‘food.’

To participate in Victoria – phone and leave a voice message at: 383-5144 x1940

Filed under C. T. Butler & Keith McHenry