SOLIDARITY NOT CHARITY
When I feed the hungry, they call me a saint. When I ask why the
hungry don't have enough food, they call me a Communist.
- Helder Pessoa Camara, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife
SOLIDARITY NOT CHARITY FLYER
Not Bombs flyers to print for your literature table
Meals without a message is just charity and supports the system of
exploitation. The Food Not Bombs literature table is one of the most effective ways to
change society. With the
global economic, political and environmental crisis growing more urgent
it has never been more important to be as effective as possible at
inspiring change. The Food Not Bombs meal can be one of the most powerful ways
to encourage public to work for peace, social justice, animal rights and the protection
of the environment. We are often the only activists visible to
our communities. Reclaim public space, challenge austerity, and encourage
Food Not Bombs is not a charity. It is organizing to
change society so no one is forced to stand in line to eat at a soup kitchen. Meals without a banner and literature is just charity
sending a message of support for the current political and economic
system of exploitation. Our banner, literature and conversation with the
public is as important as the healthy organic vegan meals we share. Ending the system where people are
so poor they are required to seek food from charities is central to
the goals of Food Not Bombs.
The authorities know how powerful it is for Food Not Bombs to have
literature and a banner at every meal so they make an effort to
discourage this part of our work. And their policies have been effective. Chapters
that do not bring flyers and and a banner feed far less people and find
it hard to get volunteers and food donations. When the public passes by
our meals and sees over a hundred people gathering to eat under the
banner Food Not Bombs this can have a strong impact on people that might
otherwise have never considered the issue. With 50 cents of every tax
dollar going to the military it is no wonder why the United States is
unable or willing to fund education, healthcare and other programs for
the public. The literature can inspire a conversation between those
depending on the food and those who have access to regular meals. As a
result housed people discover that our homeless friends share many of
the same desires and concerns and this can be transformative. Many people who depend on free meals tend to travel in the same circles rarely interacting with people who do not frequent soup kitchens. This can be very disempowering and contribute to remaining in trapped in a system that lacks dignity.
someone passes by our meal and there is no literature they assume the
food is only for the hungry and homeless and they do not stop to talk
with the people gathered to eat. The presence of literature at the
Saturday meal in Reykjavik inspired a spirited conversation that evolved
into a weekly march after lunch to the parliament building and after a
few months the protests were so large the government fell. (SEE PHOTO OF
SIGN IN ICELAND AT BOTTOM)
On the other hand we have talked with people who ate at meals that did
not have literature and they report that there is almost no conversation
about social issues and that the only people eating with the group are
those people that require a free meal. Interaction with a diverse public
is absent and offers of food donations, invitations to provide food at
other groups actions and new volunteers are rare.
A number of Food Not Bombs groups in the United States have been able to reduce their influence and the number of people they feed by not only by failing to have literature and a banner but also becuase they share food at a time and location where few will every see them.
Some groups set up in the center of parks where no one will ever pass or they bring their meals late at night when no one other than the more hungry people will visit.
The San Francisco police made nearly 1,000 arrests, beat volunteers
and charged Food Not Bombs activists with felonies. The police almost
always took the banner and literature first. The police told the media
that they didn't mind that we were sharing food but that they had to
arrest us because we were making a political statement and that
We encourage you to display your banner and set out literature at every
meal. Your group can also set up literature tables at concerts and in
public locations between your regular meals. Your Food Not Bombs group
can be effective at inspiring social change if your volunteers make a
point of engaging the public in conversation about subjects like
diverting resources from the military toward necessities like nutritious
food, educations and healthcare. While several volunteers are sharing
meals and distributing groceries another volunteer can staff the
literature table. They can let pedestrians know that Food Not Bombs
shares free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry in over 1,000
cities around the world to protest war, poverty and the destruction of
the environment and add the notion that with over a billion people going
hungry each day how can we spend another dollar on war? Your chapter can
have a committee of volunteers that gather literature from other groups,
prints out Food Not Bombs literature and makes sure it is displayed at
every meal with banners. This way the cooks and people sharing the meal
can focus on that important task. They may also staff the literature
distro during the meal and at other events inviting conversation about
current issues and encouraging the public to participate in protests and
other activities. This committee can also invite people to play music,
have puppet shows or other activities to build community at the regular
We have seen that Food Not Bombs groups will increase the number of
people volunteering, get more food donations and that the number of
people enjoying the groups food also increases when literature and a
banner is displayed at each meal. Add your local chapters contact
information on your flyers. Your chapter can also collect stacks of
flyers about many issues by contacting other activist groups. They will
be happy that you are helping them reach the public. Print or collect at
least 100 copies and use a number 19 rubber band to hold them together.
Your chapter can have a water proof box and pack it with the largest
flyers on the bottom and topped off with your Food Not Bombs banner.
Take the box out to every meal, hang the banner and set out the
literature in neat rows.
Police take banner in Flagstaff, Arizona. They left
the food to be shared.
The U.S. government has a nationwide campaign against
our bringing literature and a banner to our meals because they know it
is one of the most effective ways for Food Not Bombs to encourage
resistance to their policies. Authorities have told our volunteers that
they can share food but not have a banner or literature. The authorities
have also sent informants to volunteer to bring the banner and
literature and discard them in a dumpster on the way to the meal. When
this fails they will arrest the volunteers for having a banner and
flyers even though this is protected under the first amendment of the
Our tables can also include music, theater, poetry, dance, art and other
cultural expressions encouraging positive social change. Our goal is to
end the need to feed the hungry by inspiring the public to take the
action necessary for society to redirect our resources from the military
towards real security where everyone has what they need to flourish.
Besides providing literature at your regular meals you can table
without food. If you look around your community you will find a good
location where there are many pedestrians. Figure out the times and days
when the most people would walk by. See if there are trees, utility
poles or a wall where you can hang your Food Not Bombs banner. You can
also make a banner that can drape over the front of your table. Plan to
show up for several hours each week. Set up your literature for a couple
hours and invite passers by to find out about the work of Food Not
Bombs. Between your regular meals your group can set up a distro, place
some cookies on a plate and talk with your community. You are sure to
encourage people to volunteer and participate in your regular meals. You
can also set up a literature table at concerts and other events. The
more we speak with the public the more we will build interest in
changing the world. After all one reason there are so many Food Not
Bombs groups is because people learned of our work by talking with us at
our literature tables.
The Food Not Bombs literature table can have announcements of future
protests, factual literature about why we share vegan meals, global
warming and the environment, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and
Palestine, the globalization of the economy and threats to human rights.
You might have a petition for people to sign. Talk with people who walk
pass your table inviting them to check out your information or asking
them to sign your petition. One on one conversations make a more lasting
impression than mass media.
You can add cookies or ice tea to the table and see for yourself how
effective the Food Not Bombs literature table can be. You will see new
faces at your protests. You will find new volunteers and with a regular
table you will make lasting connections with people you might otherwise
have never met.
Always provide literature at your regular meal.
Put your food on half the table and literature on the other half. You
can even organize two days. One that is your regular meal and another
one that is less work where you just provide snacks.
Its simple yet