Food Not Bombs: Resistance to Philanthropy

By: Dylan Rodgers

As a culture, we marvel in reverence of philanthropists who dedicate their lives to helping those in need.  Mother Teresa showed love to the poor, sick, orphaned and the dying, not excluding anyone ostracized by their communities because of leprosy or aids.  Jesus Christ is loved because of his compassion for people without basic means of survival supposedly feeding 5000 people in one sitting.  But just as we celebrate our humanitarian heroes, we worry about how it looks to have poor and homeless people walking through our neighborhoods.

This was the cry of many residents around Lake Eola Park in Orlando, Florida.  They pushed for municipal order to stop Keith McHenry from feeding the masses of hungry, homeless people in the park.  Co-founder of the organization, Food Not Bombs, McHenry has vowed to provide free food to anyone and everyone regardless of class or income.  While feeding the hungry, McHenry and other members of Food Not Bombs chapters nationwide make signs and banners to protest the growing US poverty rate in relation to our extensive military budget (50 cents of every tax dollar).

The only difference between Food Not Bombs and the various humanitarian organizations dedicated to feeding the poor, is that the volunteers for Food Not Bombs don't preach about religious ideals; instead they preach about the injustice of a culture and an economic system that avidly ignores the needy in its own country.

Needless to say, the people who were upset about the plethora of homeless dispersing throughout their communities won in court.  In 2008 Orlando's city commission passed an ordinance to not allow anyone to serve food to more than 25 people without a permit and this food service could only happen twice in each park.

The big questions remain:  Why would anyone prohibit feeding the masses?  Why wouldn't the city at the least designate an area where something like this could happen?

Regardless of the numerous arrests of Keith McHenry and many of the Food Not Bombs volunteers, the organization is growing like wild-fire around the US.  No matter the ordinances enacted against them, they will continue to feed the hungry on the home front.

To join us in our efforts to feed the hunger-stricken victims in East Africa, click here.

Photo: Jungleboy