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Thanksgiving Holiday With Food Not Bombs
by Lynda Carson (newzland2 [at] gmail.com)
Wednesday Nov 25th, 2020 11:15 PM
People at People's Park in Berkeley, lined up to get a free meal from the wonderful folks at Food Not Bombs:
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Thanksgiving Holiday With Food Not Bombs

By Lynda Carson - November 25, 2020

I hope that people are feeling alright this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and are managing to avoid the coronavirus covid-19 pandemic that is killing off hundreds of thousands of people across the nation.

On Thursday November 26, 2020, it’s the Thanksgiving holiday, and Food Not Bombs will be at People’s Park in Berkeley at 3:00 PM to serve a nourishing meal to the hungry, and the unhoused. Presently, there are around 100 tents with people camping out at People’s Park lately. As winter sets in, and the coronavirus covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a lot of lost jobs, unemployment, and homelessness, many people that are unhoused have joined local encampments to survive in the Bay Area, including the one at People’s Park.

I spoke with Lydia Gans, a long time member of East Bay Food Not Bombs (FNB), a little bit ago. Lydia told me that in addition to handing out food to the hungry and the unhoused, lately the wonderful folks at FNB are collecting socks and tarps for the unhoused, and the needy.

Lydia Gans, spent over 20 years with FNB, and spent years handing out food on Tuesdays. FNB used to wash pots and pans at Lydia’s home after handing out food at People’s Park. As Lydia got older in years and started having mobility problems, and trouble getting around, younger people have joined the cause to take over for the older people, and serve food to the hungry through FNB.

Now younger members of FNB deliver food to Lydia on Tuesdays. Lydia told me that she worked with FNB for so many years that younger members of FNB are eager to help her out in her time of need, and she is very grateful. Lydia is nearing 90 years old, and moved with her family to the U.S. from Germany when she was a child many years ago. Lydia can still recall seeing a parade in Germany from a balcony, while watching Hitler and Mussolini passing by down below. Luckily, Lydia and her family got out of Germany safely, and Lydia says that the people in America welcomed her with open arms many years ago.

Since covid-19 began, Lydia says that FNB is now serving meals in packages, instead of handing it out in bowls from large pots and pans of cooked food. FNB is collecting food from Whole Foods, farmer’s markets, and local community gardens to serve food to the community. FNB has numerous locations where its members are cooking the food at, before they deliver the very nourishing food to various locations in Oakland, and Berkeley.

Lydia says that she and other older members of FNB are really glad that younger people have been stepping up to the plate to join FNB, and take over the duties of the older folks who are now at risk of the coronavirus pandemic, and are sheltering-in-place.

Joe Leisner is a friend of Lydia who has been with FNB for around 20 years. The last I spoke with Joe, he stated that he has done cooking on Tuesdays and Thursdays for FNB, and does food pick ups to get food from Whole Foods to turn into meals, or distribute to people in Oakland and Berkeley. Joe said that it has been a wonderful experience for him to be with FNB, and be able to see how it feels to make a difference in the world by serving nourishing food to the beautiful souls who are hungry, and needing assistance.

According to their website, “East Bay Food Not Bombs was formed in February of 1991. We have served in People’s Park since the beginning, and have a long connection to that land, which is occupied Ohlone territory. Food Not Bombs is a loosely linked network of vaguely anarchist collectives across the country and the world, all focused on providing nutritious, free vegetarian food to anyone who wants it. We are horizontally organized and committed to food justice and food waste reduction as well as houseless advocacy. The East Bay chapter is the longest continually operating chapter of Food Not Bombs — for 29 years we haven’t stopped.

We serve hot food five days a week in People’s Park, two days a week in Oakland, and do mobile outreach at encampments around Oakland and Berkeley 3-4 days a week. We are based out of the Omni Commons on Shattuck Ave but have cookhouses scattered across the East Bay. We get our produce from grocery stores and farmer’s markets that donate things to us, and the staples from the food bank. Almost all of the produce we cook with is organic and sustainably farmed.

East Bay Food Not Bombs is a testament to the sustainability of mutual aid in the long term. We are committed to supporting and loving our community in the East Bay. Black Lives Matter. Abolish the police! Let’s dream of ways of caring for our community that actually work.”

Back around 2008, I had the wonderful experience of joining with Lydia Gans and FNB to hand out free food on Thursdays at Effie’s House in Oakland, including some of the neighboring buildings. In around a year or more, I gave away around 4,000 loaves of organic bread, and many other types of food from Whole Foods to my neighbors, and others in the neighborhood.

Volunteers are welcome to show up at People’s Park in Berkeley to join FNB, and help serve food to the hungry, and the unhoused.

Lynda Carson may be reached at newzland2 [at] gmail.com

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