Local organization helping homeless

Providing a vegetarian meal, Food Not Bombs takes an active stance on feeding homeless

By Haley M. Walker | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Several times a week, a group of friends and members of the community cook for a group much larger than just themselves. Every Monday, Thursday and Saturday, the organization Food Not Bombs provides a homemade, vegetarian dinner for the homeless in St. Augustine.

“It’s more about doing what you are going to do, rather than saying what you are going to do,” said Flagler student Molly Jane Hammond. “Direct action is more important than mantras.”

According to www.foodnotbombs.net, the organization began as an anti-nuclear movement in Cambridge, Mass., back in 1980. Today, Food Not Bombs continues to stand against the elements of war and hunger in many different countries around the globe.

Volunteers of the chapters collect food that would otherwise be discarded, and use the materials to create strictly vegetarian meals for those in need.

“We all try to be environmentally friendly,” active member Jessica Beckwith said. “We try to enhance on not wasting. There is so much that goes to waste and there are so many homeless people that need it.”

According to the Web site, Food Not Bombs champions vegetarianism in order to advance smaller, more localized farming and to promote a more organic lifestyle.

The organization is against the use of chemicals and preservatives found in many of today’s meat and dairy products that are produced on a larger scale.

Food Not Bombs also stands to honor non-violence. According to the Web site, the group contests the government’s spending on bombs and war supplies instead of on food for the hungry.

“How can we spend so much money on the industrial war complex while citizens suffer?” member Sumner Gray said.

“I would much rather see models like Food Not Bombs in all segments of social aid than bureaucratic, sterile and often ineffective models that mainstream society accepts.”

The organization also stands against other violent aspects of society such as racism, homophobia and the discrimination between classes.

The St. Augustine chapter of this worldwide coalition meets three evenings a week in the public gazebo downtown to serve their meals. They hope to continue growing.

“It would be awesome to have it happening every day,” said local founder Angel Rodriquez.

The volunteers who are involved locally include students and people of all different ages and occupations.

“It’s a good collective,” Beckwith said. “It takes all of us and ties us together. It’s an organization where we work together.”

But the spirit of togetherness is not their ultimate goal.

“Everyone has a right to a full belly,” Beckwith said. “There are basic human rights, and in our country where we have this kind of society, there shouldn’t be homeless.”

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