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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Eliminating Hunger

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Milwaukee’schapter of the worldwide organization Food Not Bombs is a group concerned with raising awareness of homeless and hungry people. It is their contention that our society directs too many funds toward military endeavors while neglecting the health care and nutritional needs of its members. Meetings are held every other Monday at Cream City Collectives, located at 732 E. Clarke St. in Riverwest. One of the group’s founders, Mary Schulz, recently talked about the organization.

What are the basic principles upon which this group was founded?
Nonviolence, consensus and vegetarianism. We try to help with the redistribution of things from people who have extra to those who have none. I think that taking these excesses that would otherwise have been thrown away and using them to make a free, hot meal for anybody who comes along is a really important thing. I’d also like to say that FNB doesn’t see itself as a charity as much as an organization wanting to break down barriers between people and be something that the community can relate to.

What do you do to work toward these goals?
We started out serving meals on the last Saturday of the month at Walker’s Square Park, because that’s around the time food stamps run out. We’ve received produce donations from Outpost Natural Foods stores and both Breadsmith and Comet Cafe have given us bread.

How did this group get started in Milwaukee?
We decided to organize after seeing a lot of hunger, poverty and neglect in Milwaukee and wanting to do something direct about it. I came back from traveling out west and seeing Portland, where their local Food Not Bombs group has servings three to four times a week in different areas and parks. It was a really great way to be active and it got a lot of the community together. I knew that FNB had a past in Milwaukee; I decided that it was time to kind of resurrect it. We started here in the end of July with about 10 people.

How have your efforts been received?
In general, the Milwaukee community has been very supportive. We’ve had people from many walks of life get involved, because this goes across so many different barriers … we’d like to make Milwaukee a place where somebody doesn’t have to go hungry.

What are your goals as an organization?
To provide some sort of change within Milwaukee in whatever way we can. We put it in people’s faces, to bring awareness. We put out literature and we serve at protests, and often people organizing protests are connected to this group or that group and we kind of infiltrate whatever we can.