Building community with food, not bombs

October 31, 2022
Food Not Bombs Newcastle Organiser Bronte is finding ways to build community through food
Food Not Bombs Newcastle Organiser Bronte distributing meals to the community. Photo: Theodore L Catt

Food Not Bombs (FNB) Newcastle distributes free vegan meals at Awaba Park, outside Hamilton station, every Monday and Wednesday.

FNB volunteers prepare meals from donated ingredients that would otherwise go to waste. Bronte, a FNB Newcastle organiser, told Green Left about the FNB movement.

Beginning the 1980s, in Boston, Massachusetts, “It was started by a handful of activists who wanted to protest war and poverty by sharing free vegetarian meals in a public space,” they said.

Since then about 1000 chapters have opened up around the world, “all acting autonomously but sharing the same values”.

Bronte said FNB is based on an anarchist tradition of mutual aid. “Non-hierarchical structures … consensus decision making … making time for each other, saying everyone’s valuable and equal, and making time for people’s voice to be heard.”

FNB has brought together a community of people, looking after each other, Bronte said. “Because they care for me, I care for myself,” they said. “If we’re going to fight this capitalist system, we need community and we need to build community.

“Mutual aid is what I see as the future, going forward … it’s one of the most effective ways to do direct action.”

Many FNB volunteers have lived on the street or in their cars, without a fixed address. They understand the value of a free, warm meal, Bronte said.

“We believe that everyone has an equal right to food and deserves food, there is enough food on the planet to feed everyone.”

FNB has faced resistance, including a police raid of the Hunter Community Environment Centre, the adjacent building to where FNB prepares and cooks its meals, in November last year. Many of the centre’s assets were seized by police after a coal-related protest.

“I've been raided by the police twice, and it’s a pretty traumatic experience,” Bronte said.

[Follow Food Not Bombs Newcastle on Facebook and find your local Food Not Bombs chapter here.]

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