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A food explosion
It is the curse of Food Not Bombs in Fresno.
If someone says they'll show up to help chop some vegetables or cook up a pot of beans or serve food on Saturday afternoon at Roeding Park chances are, they won't.
Yes, the volunteer pool is small. Just five or six people on most days.
But the work is consistent.
The group collects, prepares and serves free vegetarian meals chili and soups, maybe some jambalaya at Roeding Park and the Courthouse park. That's every yes, every weekend.
You can taste a sample at the group's third annual FNB party, 5 p.m. Sunday at Full Circle Brewing Co. The party/fundraiser will feature the group's best recipes along with entertainment from Abigail Nolte, Blake Jones and the Trike Shop and Tanjora Tribal Belly Dance.
As a movement, Food Not Bombs was started in 1980 by the anti-nuke crowd, an all-volunteer group working to bring nonviolent social change. Even as the movement has grown into hundreds of groups in cities across the world, the mission hasn't changed. Serve hot, fresh meals in a public space to anyone, no restrictions, no questions asked.
For something that seems so innocuous (who could be against feeding hungry people), it can get politically super-charged. The San Francisco group has seen more than 1,000 arrests in what it sees as a governmental effort to silence its protest of the city's anti-homeless policies.
In Fresno, there's never been those kinds of problems, says Kelly Borkert, a homeless advocate and Fresno FNB volunteer. But there is the need, he says.
And their's is just one group, serving one part of town. The hunger is everywhere, he says.
Of course, the food is available.
Food Not Bombs uses produce that would otherwise be wasted, Borkert says. Each week they collect unused fruits and vegetables from the Vineyard Farmers Market and Whole Foods, and other foods from places like La Boulangerie.
Obviously, the meals are seasonal. Beans and rice is always a good bet, though the group also makes salads and soups good soups, Borkert says. The soups have just been getting better every time.
He's not saying that as an FNB spokesman.
He's just another volunteer.
With FNB there's only volunteers. There are no elected officers, no national headquarters. The hundreds of chapters working all over the country collaborate only in the loosest of ways, sharing recipes and logistical problem-solving.
It's organized without the organization. A testament to the power of limited resources, Borkert says.
It's elbow grease and a little bit of time.
So, no, there's no horde of volunteers rushing to chop celery for the big soup although the group is always looking (hint, hint). More people means less work. To volunteer you can check it out on Myspace, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (559) 438-4088.
Better yet, just come down and stand in line, taste the food, Borkert says.
Just don't say you'll be there.