This Is What Solidarity Looks Like: How Long Island Food Not Bombs’ Hunger Relief Efforts are Eclipsing That of NGO’s With Multi-Million Dollar Annual Budgets

[HEMPSTEAD, NY]  The hunger relief efforts of a small group of dedicated and caring Long Islanders operating on a near-zero budget is eclipsing that of the relief efforts of many well-funded 501-c3 organizations, both in number of people served and in the volume of food distributed. The group, a Long Island chapter of the decentralized, grassroots, hunger relief group, Food Not Bombs, is serving to both inspire the local community and simultaneously raise questions as to how an autonomous group with a shoestring budget can outmatch non-profits of similar purpose whose operating budget exceeds millions of dollars annually.

Long Island Food Not Bombs (LIFNB), who facilitates community food shares 5 days a week, and organizes distributions of recovered food 7 days a week, distributed nearly 30,000lbs of produce yesterday alone (12/22/2013). These large numbers have become more common for the group in recent years, and is credited in-part to the group’s sister non-profit Community Solidarity Inc., whose 501-c3 status has allowed greater access to recovery points such as grocers and local cafes. The exponential increase in attendance at LIFNB’s food shares can also be attributed to the radical increase in income inequality and it’s creation of a growing constituency of hungry, working, poor families. LIFNB’s savvy use of social media, and community-driven organizing model has also contributed to its explosive growth. Moreover, the food served is delicious.

An 8min video published today by The Sparrow Project titled This Is What Solidarity Looks Like: 24hrs With Long Island Food Not Bombs provides a cross-sectional view into the group’s daily operations, specifically the 24 hour period surrounding the group’s annual Thanksgiving food share which took place this year on November 24th at the Long Island Rail Road Station in Hempstead, NY.

PEOPLE IMPACTED BY THE SHARE »
Between 3pm and 4pm on November 24th, 2013 over 2,500 people visited the share and left with groceries, plates of hot food, or both.

TOTAL WEIGHT OF GROCERIES SHARED »
Between 3pm and 4pm on November 24th, 2013 approximately 50,078.75lbs of food was distributed. This consisted of fresh produce, cereals, soy milks, cooking amenities like oils and flours, as well as non essentials like spices and sweeteners. This abundance, if distributed evenly, could provide a week worth of nutrition for all 2,500 attendees.

VEGAN HOT MEALS »
Between 3pm and 4pm on November 24th, 2013 approximately 1,850 people enjoyed hot vegan meals. Long Island Food Not Bombs extends their foundational message of non-violence to embrace non-human animals and therefore only recovers and distributes vegetarian grocery items and only prepares hot meals that are strictly vegan. The group’s plant-based entrées (often celebrated by vegans and carnivores alike) is not only more sustainable and safe for distribution but directly challenges the Turkey fundraisers of other soup kitchens. The Hempstead meal alone spared ~180 turkeys.

SUPPLEMENTING FAMILIES’ INCOME »
On average Long Island Food Not Bombs saves a family who attends their food shares ~ $100 every week*. These savings add up for families who regularly attend the shares and can exceed $4,000 in savings per-family annually*. [ calculations based on fair market value of food donated*]

OPERATING ON A SHOESTRING BUDGET »
The creation of the group’s sister non-profit Community Solidarity has increased the group’s access to food and the groups ability to help an exponentially larger amount of people, all while allowing the autonomy, DIY ethos, and radical politics of Food Not Bombs to remain intact. The two-tier system however has not resulted in an infusion of capital. Unlike 501-c3 organizations with similar purposes, LIFNB and Community Solidarity Inc., have no paid employees and continue to operate on a shoestring. If you want to help change that you can do so by donating to Community Solidarity HERE.

Poster

Photo credit Louis Mazzei, @515LM

The video published today by The Sparrow Project, is intended to inspire others to pursue similar endeavors in their own communities. LIFNB places emphasis on solidarity over charity and community engagement over hierarchical charitable models that can inadvertently patronize the communities they intend to help. Through the use of social media, a dedicated core of volunteers, and countless community members that make up the foundation of their food share distributions, Long Island Food Not Bombs was able to serve over 1,000,000lbs of food to tens of thousand of Long Islander’s in 2013.

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For more information on Long Island Food Not Bombs visit http://lifnb.com or email longislandfoodnotbombs@gmail.com Tax deductible donations can be made to support LIFNB’s tireless efforts online at this LINK. To schedule an interview with a LIFNB member or for similar media requests please email jonsteps@communitysolidarity.org. Media request can also be directed to andy@sparrowmedia.net

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