“Nothing brings people together like food”
On October 10, 2016, I had the pleasure of joining my friends in volunteering with the organization “Food Not Bombs” in Providence, Rhode Island. When I first heard the name of the organization, I was automatically drawn in.
A Quick History Lesson
Food Not Bombs is an organization that brings kindness, respect, dignity, sustainability, and the community together while combating the issues of hunger within the homeless community. The organization first began in the 1980’s due to a public outcry asking “why are we paying for war but cannot feed those in need?”. Volunteers receive food donations from restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores and more that have a surplus of food.
From there, volunteers come together to cook and serve those in need of a hearty meal. Rather than the act of “dumpster diving”, homeless community members can be served the food that would originally hit the trash in a respectful manner.
The organization serves vegan and vegetarian food to anyone who is hungry. There is no discrimination, no identification needed, and no judgement.
Chapters can be started in any location and I was fortunate to volunteer with the Providence chapter. Food Not Bombs stands for “Solidarity, not charity” and there is no hierarchy in the organization; everyone is equal.
Food Not Bombs is more well-known on the West Coast but it is hoped more chapters will be developed on the East Coast.
Listening to Laura
I had the pleasure of speaking to a volunteer named Laura. Laura is originally from Boston and is now living in Providence. She is 29 and is a member of the Providence chapter. Talking to Laura opened my eyes about the significance of the organization.
She was first attracted to Food Not Bombs due to the principles of the organization. She enjoys cooking and being with friends and creating a positive impact on others. She is proud to be providing this service because shelters cannot keep up with the demand for food and Food Not Bombs helps with this issue.
One thing Laura stated that truly impacted me was police officers usually don’t like the organization because it creates a large gathering of the homeless population. I was disgusted at the idea that Food Not Bombs is impacting and saving those less fortunate of hunger yet the view of a group of homeless people cause the police to want to break up the peaceful and gratitude-filled events.
Talking to Thalia
My best friend Thalia was the person who put Food Not Bombs on my mind and made me want to get involved. Thalia is 19 years old and is from Worchester. She currently lives in Providence and is a part of the Rhode Island Chapter. She helps publicize the organization through running the Facebook and Instagram accounts. She is also the creator and president of the Johnson and Wales club, The Style and Design Association (SDA).
Thalia was scanning the web for organization that SDA could volunteer their time to and stumbled upon Food Not Bombs. After being moved by the mission of Food Not Bombs, she became involved. She states, her “mind was blown” and was amazed with the volunteering and being around like-minded people who wanted to do good and to positively impact the lives of others. She instantly felt a connection to those involved. “Nothing brings people together like food”, she exclaimed.
In Thalia’s life, she has seen restaurants throw away food and has thought to herself, ‘why must it hit the trash rather than going to those who are hungry’? This being one of the reasons Food Not Bombs has attracted her to being involved. She affirmed, “people don’t think things are a problem unless it affects them”.
Do Good, Feel Good
After feeling moved by the mission, I HAD to get involved. I came to Providence on October 10th, Indigenous People’s Day. I met with all of the volunteers at Laura’s house and the cooking was in full swing. Vegetables being chopped, roasted, and diced. Stews and soups being prepped and boiled. Bags of vegetables being separated. I knew two people in the room of the house but by the end of cooking the meals, I felt like I gained a family.
We traveled to the Kennedy Plaza where the PRONK Festival was held. We served food such as apples with sweet potatoes, roasted beets, mixed green salads, bread with Nutella, and more. As a line grew and more and more people gathered, other organizations at the event donated food and trays. No person was turned down and EVERYONE received at least one plate of food.
One of my favorite parts of the event is guaranteeing those who are hungry will not be hungry tomorrow. We gave out bags of vegetables and salad mix as well as loaves of bread, peanut butter, rice packaged, and more. We offered everyone food to take home as well as food to share with their family and friends throughout the event.
As PRONK ended and the guests shuffled out, the homeless population still strayed at the Kennedy Plaza. There, we gave the rest of the food to whoever wanted some. It was comforting to see so much gratitude, thankfulness, and love by those who came to the Food Not Bombs tables and was given meals they may not have had if we were not there. Having my hand shook by strangers, praise and thanks booming throughout the day, and seeing how much we had impacted those who were in need… absolutely made my day.
Join the Revolution
If you are interested, please check out the Food Not Bombs Facebook page here
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