7 steps to starting a FNB in your area

Robert Kemp (sensuant@hotmail.com)
Sun, 10 Oct 1999 12:46:21 EDT

----Original Message Follows----
From: AgentSmiley@aol.com
To: sensuant@hotmail.com
Subject: 7 steps to starting a FNB in your area
Date: Sun, 10 Oct 1999 12:07:14 EDT


Seven Steps to Organizing a Local Food Not Bombs

At the outset, starting a Food Not Bombs might seem like more than you can
handle. Work on the basics, taking one step at a time. There is no need to
feel pressured into accomplishing everything all at once. It might take a
couple of weeks to get things rolling or it may take months. One person
cannot be a Food Not Bombs group, but one person can start one.

Once you have made the decision to start a local Food Not Bombs group, talk
to some other people you know who might be interested in working with you. 
might be a group of friends, or members of an existing group, or you can put
up flyers announcing your intentions and see who responds. Pick a meeting
date, time, and place and gather everyone who is interested together to talk
about what you would like to do. The following is a step by step process to
get your food operation up and running. Again, these are suggestions. 
of your unique situation, you may need to add steps or ignore steps or do
them in a different order. Whatever works for your group is the best path to

Step 1: Start by getting a phone number and a mailing address. By using
either a voice mailbox or an answering machine, you can have an out-going
message with information about the next meeting time and place and you can
receive messages so you never miss a call. Besides, who wants to sit by a
phone waiting for it to ring; we'd rather be out in the streets feeding
people. Likewise, use a commercial mailbox or post office box for your
permanent address. As your membership changes, your mailing address can
remain the same and you wonÕt have to redo your literature. Responsibility
for collecting and responding to the mail can be easily rotated. And, most
importantly, you won't have uninvited guests showing up at your house 
to know where is the free food.

Step 2: Next, make flyers announcing the existence of a local Food Not 
By handing them out at events, posting them around town, and/or mailing them
out to your friends, you will start getting phone calls, mail, and 
volunteers. It is helpful to have regularly scheduled weekly meetings or
always know when the next meeting is so you can ask people to attend. This
helps newcomers feel welcome and tells them how to become involved in your

Step 3: The next step is to arrange for the use of a vehicle. This can be a
major challenge or it might not. Between the members of your group, there
might be enough vehicles of the right size for your needs. If not, you might
be able to arrange borrowing a van or truck from a sympathetic church group
or similar organization. If you are very lucky, you might be able to 
someone to donate one to you. And, if none of the above leads to obtaining a
vehicle, you can always hold fundraising events to raise money specifically
for the purchase of a van.

Step 4: With flyers in hand, begin looking for sources of food. The first
places to approach are the local food co-ops and health food stores. These
types of stores tend to be more supportive and are a good place to practice
your approach. Ask the produce managers if they ever throw away any excess
produce. Explain that you are willing to collect any food which is still
edible but which will not or cannot be sold. Tell them you plan to give the
food to shelters and soup kitchens to feed hungry people. (You need to 
if you want to tell them that some of the food will be used for political
organizing or even to tell them the name of the group. At some stores, this
might not be an issue; at others, it might be better left unsaid, especially
at first, until they get to know you better.) If they are interested and
willing, arrange for a regular time to pick-up the food each day or as often
as is practical. Early on, also visit bakeries and ask for day old bread,
muffins, and bagels. Eventually, when you are able to handle the volume,
start approaching food distributors, warehouses, and producers. When and
where it is appropriate, leave literature which explains what Food Not Bombs

Step 5: Deliver this bulk food to shelters and meal kitchens. It is 
to get to know the food pantries and soup kitchens in your area. Learn where
they are located, whom they serve, and how many they serve. This information
will help you plan your delivery route and distribute appropriate types and
amounts of food to each program. Usually, it is desirable to arrange a
regular delivery schedule with each kitchen. As your delivery route 
the schedule of free food programs in our community will become clear to 
With this information, you will know where and when there is a need to
provide a hot meal and, therefore, where and when to set-up a Food Not Bombs
table out in public on the street or in a park.

Step 6: It won't be long before the network of a few stores and bakeries 
be giving more food than you will be able to distribute to shelters. (Even 
this doesnÕt happen right away in your area, you can still start to skim 
food out of the flow without affecting the bulk food distribution part of 
program.) With the extra food, start to prepare meals to serve on the
streets. At first, go to rallies and demonstrations. There, the group can
recruit more volunteers, collect donations, and lift the spirits of those at
the event. Giving out meals at a rally builds community and supports the
cause in a very direct way.

Step 7: Once there are enough people involved, consider serving meals one 
a week to the homeless on the street in a visible way. Organize into teams;
one to cook the food and one to set-up and serve the food. Cooking and
serving in teams builds community within the group and is great fun. Every
group has different kitchen arrangements. Some use several peoplesÕ home
kitchens, some use a donated church kitchen or other industrial-strength
kitchen, and some use propane stoves and cook right at the site. Pick areas
which have high volume and diverse pedestrian traffic. Locations which are
highly visible are desirable because part of our mission is to help make the
invisible homeless more visible to those better off, economically. Also, we
want to reach out to everyone with our political message; and we want to be
very accessible. Often people without homes gather near the government 
because they are seeking assistance of one kind or another. Why not set-up
once a week outside the federal building? Over time, it is possible to grow
to serving food on the street every day of the week at a different site each

All our food is vegetarian, that is, no meat, dairy, or eggs. This is for
many reasons, but for now, two will do. First, the potential for problems
with food spoilage are greatly reduced when dealing strictly with 
With the process we use, we rarely hold the food we collect for more then a
couple of hours. Second, teaching people about the economic and health
benefits of a vegetarian diet is directly connected to a healthy attitude
about ourselves, each other, and the planet as a whole. It is also a direct
challenge to the injustice of the military/industrial economic system. This
is not to suggest that it is our policy that everyone should be vegetarian 
that eating meat is wrong. We encourage awareness of vegetarianism for
political and economic reasons. We only prepare food which is strictly from
vegetable sources so people will always know and trust Food Not Bombs food
has this standard whenever they come to our table. At times, we do serve
already prepared dairy and meat products which are donated to us because we
believe eating is more important than being politically correct; however, we
do not cook with animal products.

Food Not Bombs PO Box 32075 Kansas City, MO 64171 U$A
Start a Food Not Bombs group in you community today!

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"To be truly radical, one must make hope
possible, rather than despair convincing."
- Raymond Williams

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