Food Not Bombs, the new media darlings?

A healthy protest

Sheryl Nadler, the Hamilton Spectator

Food Not Bombs volunteers Cody McNea, left, and James Blair at Gore Park.

The Hamilton Spectator

(Oct 29, 2007)

Step right up and get your brussels sprouts.

There were plenty of the healthy buds on the menu at yesterday’s weekly Food Not Bombs dinner in Gore Park.

Hamilton’s local chapter of the worldwide organization has been quietly serving up free, vegetarian meals downtown on and off for years. The latest incarnation set up in Gore Park last winter and has been a regular Sunday afternoon fixture ever since.

Yesterday, the volunteers seemed to outnumber those lining up for the vegan grub. Many of those digging in were regulars who say they have come to count on the nutritious weekly meal.

“There should be more things like this in Hamilton,” said a tattooed man in a wheelchair, who did not want to be identified, as he lined up for seconds. After living on the streets in Vancouver years ago, he said he appreciates how important a service like this is.

Jen, a fellow regular, said she comes as much for the company as she does for the food. “They treat you like a real person here,” she said.

Jonathan Paul, a 22-year-old McMaster graduate, has hosted the prep and cooking party out of his John Street apartment for the past few weeks.

“Wasted food just bothers me,” he said. “We have so much of it and so many people in need.”

The local group has tens of members, but a core group of about a dozen regular volunteers. Almost all the food prepared is donated from a handful of stalls at the farmers’ market, a local organic farmer as well as several bakeries and health food stores.

Alex Patterson has volunteered with a Food Not Bombs group in Vancouver’s east side and said Hamilton has a unique and friendly vibe.

“It’s more community-oriented,” he said. “It’s like getting together for a meal with friends.”

The first Food Not Bombs chapter was formed in Cambridge, Mass., in 1980 by anti-nuclear activists who wanted to share free vegetarian food with hungry people while protesting war and poverty. The movement has since spread to countries across five continents.