The article below was written by Samuel Fry, a regular FNB volunteer.
On February 11th, 2014 hundreds of activists from around the state flocked to the Capitol to participate in legislative meetings to reevaluate the practice of solitary confinement in prisons. One woman I met there told me they were “finally given a voice.” Advocates (including former solitary confinement prisoners and friends and relatives of current and former inmates) were allowed to address lawmakers directly. Yet a friend of mine I met there who had once served a solitary confinement sentence said the new policies proposed were “a joke.” Understandably, prisoner support rallies like these provoke mixed feelings for those involved, because in this instance activists were advocating for prisoner rights on the terms imposed by the state.
As Food Not Bombs volunteers, Ani, Edwina, and I were there to provide food for the activists. This was our way of showing support for the cause. So many people had come from all over the Bay Area and southern California and had not stopped to eat on the way here. People were hungry, and we at Sacramento Food Not Bombs were thankfully prepared to respond to that basic human need. We coordinated long before hand to be there, because we felt our organization is naturally partnered with the cause against the practice of solitary confinement: We are all working hard to cleanse the wrongdoings of a system of flagrant abuse and oppression. We were grateful for the chance to provide our free meal because it helped keep personal costs low for those who had put in so much effort already to arrive in Sacramento to unite in protest. Supporters were very appreciative, as our contribution meant more people could participate in the event and listen to speakers afterwards without having to buy lunch someplace else.
Everyone was happy to have our bean and tofu sandwiches at the ready, along with donations galore of cupcakes, cookies, oranges, tangerines, apples, luna bars, vegetarian pizza, and chips. Even though a large portion of the food that ended up at our table toward the end of the event was not vegan and not prepared by us, we knew that all the food brought together by many people made a tremendous difference for the hungry crowd. Our simple act of standing behind a table for a few hours to organize and pass out free food to people who are hungry was predictably crucial for this rally’s success. Ani and I were very pleased to serve food to hardworking folks on that beautiful day.
No matter the location, Food Not Bombs serves to promote the idea that in order to reverse an engine of corruption and violence that runs our world, we will start at basic human principles of kindness, wellbeing, and support: sharing food. By serving nutritious food at important events in addition to our regular weekly meal at Cesar Chavez Plaza, we demonstrate that our purpose is anchored with the full-scale resistance to institutions which ignore (and worse, imprison) those who are too impoverished and isolated to reliably have access to, or be able to afford, nutritious food.
by Samuel Fry