On Sunday October 6, 2013 Sacramento Food Not Bombs was kicked out of the Cesar Chavez Park by the Sacramento police. Volunteers were greeted by about 15 officers when they arrived at the park when they normally do in time to start sharing the meal they created by 1:30 p.m. They were told that our stuff would be confiscated and we would get a summons due to an ordinance–that has yet to even be passed–that would prevent any group from handing out free hot meals in the park.
Last week advocates for the poor were told to stop sharing meals with the hungry in Sacramento and Santa Monica, California, Taos, New Mexico, and Olympia, Washington. Groups were confronted and threatened with arrest in Boulder, Colorado; Raleigh, North Carolina, Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Washington and other cities across the United States this summer.
About 50 cities in the United States have passed laws banning or limiting the sharing of meals with the hungry in the past two years with enforcement on the increase this fall.
Our food is vegan, organic and there are no records showing anyone reporting ever being made ill after eating with Food Not Bombs. The goal of giving the public the impression we are required to get a permit is to justify forcing us to stop. We have no paid staff, our food is a gift and unregulated by the authorities. Like all acts of compassion, no permission from the government is necessary.
Just before the government shut down, the U.S. Congress approved a three-year nutrition bill (H.R. 3102), with a partisan 217-210 vote, that aims to cut about $40 billion over 10 years for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It also plans to provide various reforms to the program. House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, R-Texas, said the bill includes “reasonable changes” to address the “growing and growing and growing” amount of SNAP recipients. “There are still jobs available in America,” Sessions said. “They may not be ones you want to stay in your whole life.” Democratic congress said that 4 million low-income people, including 170,000 veterans would be cut from the food stamp program because of the vote.
The government shut down will stop payments to over 9 million low-income women and children who qualify for SNAP for Women, Infants, and Children also known as WIC. Feeding hungry children is not considered essential, yet 350,000 furloughed civilian employees of the Pentagon returned to work on Monday.
Please support Sacramento Food Not Bombs. We will be risking arrest on Sunday, October 13, 2013 at Cesar Chavez Park at 1:30 p.m.
-Keith McHenry, co-founder of the Food Not Bombs Movement