Keith McHenry: Food Not Bombs
Keith McHenry will talk at The Center for the Arts about the international organization, Food Not Bombs, and their efforts to feed the hungry and end war. The program will include a 45 minute presentation along with a 15 minute video describing their work in Africa.
For those interested in local foods, sustainability and peace there will be a question and answer time following the presentation. The Peace Center of Nevada County will be on hand with information about local efforts to bring an end to war.
Food Not Bombs is one of the fastest growing peace movements and is gaining momentum throughout the world. There are hundreds of autonomous chapters sharing free vegetarian food with hungry people and protesting war and poverty. This energetic grassroots movement is active throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. For nearly 30 years the movement has worked to end hunger and has supported actions to stop the globalization of the economy, restrictions to the movements of people, end exploitation and the destruction of the earth.
In 1980, Keith McHenry and seven friends started the first Food Not Bombs chapter in Cambridge, Mass. At first more of a street performance than a protest, the group provided entertainment and vegetarian meals in Harvard Square and the Boston Commons after making deliveries of uncooked food to most of the housing projects and shelters in the area.
After eight years of serving free food in New England, Keith moved to San Francisco where he started a second Food Not Bombs group. He was one of nine volunteers arrested for sharing food and literature at Golden Gate Park on Aug. 15, 1988. In the following years, Keith was arrested over 100 times for serving free food in city parks and spent over 500 nights in jail. He faced 25 years to life in prison under the California Three Strikes Law but in 1995, Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Commission brought about his release.
For the last 15 years, Keith has been touring the world and starting up new Food Not Bombs groups and providing logistical support to existing chapters. In 2005, he helped coordinate America’s largest food relief effort organizing shipments of food, clothing and other supplies for the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force has been investigating and infiltrating Food Not Bombs groups across the United States often disrupting Keith’s work. ABC TV’s program 20/20 claimed
Keith was one of 20 people planning to destroy New York City during the Republican National Convention in 2004. He was also taken off a flight from Heathrow to Chicago by Homeland Security. As America’s post 9/11 paranoia amplified, so did the number of times Keith was blacklisted by the establishment being fired from several jobs at the request of defense contractors like Raytheon Missile Systems.
Food Not Bombs activists are currently making plans to celebrate their 30th year of cooking for peace. Along with organizing the celebration each local chapter collects and distributes food every week and there are several other projects that support the Food Not Bombs movement. One collective called “A Food Not Bombs Menu” helps people find or start local chapters. They also organize tours and support Food Not Bombs gatherings, provide materials to promote the principles of Food Not Bombs and publish books like “On Conflict and Consensus” which has been an important guide for group democracy.
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