This holiday season I really wanted to find ways that I could give back to the community. I tried to serve in a nursing home, the same one my grandmother had lived at for many years, however they had so much background checking and drug testing to do that I wouldn’t be able to volunteer until after the new years, almost February. I was able to, thanks to my great husband, to find a great team that we could serve food to the homeless. I am so glad we did.
My husband works with Kat, a sweet lady who is the grandmother of Eric who been a long standing member, supporter and somewhat coordinator of a Food Not Bombs chapter in Central Florida. Food Not Bombs is one of the fastest growing revolutionary 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. Food Not Bombs is not a charity. This energetic grassroots movement is active throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia. Food Not Bombs is organizing for peace and an end to the occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. 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.
The Orlando Food Not Bombs meets every Wednesday for dinner and Monday for breakfast downtown to serve food to the homeless in our community. They operate a smooth, friendly, open and clean service. Eric and other team members spend their day cooking and preparing the meals to be brought out where other team members join them to serve and clean up. One of the many things I found to be awesome about the way they run their operation is that they do not use disposable cook wear. All their plates, cups and utensils are real glass or silverwear. A part of the assembly line is a team standing by waiting to wash and dry all the items and have then ready for rotation again. Doing this helps them assure that there is no trash left around the area.
Having no trash remaining is important because right now they are fighting the City of Orlando for their right to be present at Lake Eola and help feed the our large community in need. Within the past decade the city has built several condominiums and the members of the community have taken their complaints of homeless people around to city officials stating they don’t feel safe or it makes their living area look bad.
July 2007, the city commission passed an ordinance regulating the feeding of large groups of people in Orlando’s downtown parks. Those who wished to feed more than 25 hungry individuals at parks within a 2-mile radius of City Hall could do so, but only if they obtained a “Large Group Feeding Permit” from the parks department — and no one would be granted more than two feeding permits a year. (Source: CBSNEWS)
Two groups that regularly fed the homeless, First Vagabonds Church of God and Orlando Food Not Bombs, sued the city to overturn the ordinance on constitutional grounds. Last year, U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell ruled that the ordinance violated constitutional rights. It infringed on the church’s ability to share food with its largely homeless congregation, he ruled, and on Food Not Bombs’ right to spread its political message about poverty and hunger. (Source: OrlandoSentinel)
There won’t be a final decision by the court for several months so until then Food Not Bombs will continue their efforts to help provide food for the homeless and I will be out there along with them helping their cause.