By Sadiyah Jamal

I spent a couple hours with Food Not Bombs at the Weekly Serve this past Sunday, helping serve food and later cleaning up. After nearly two years of inactivity at McMaster, I had finally decided to get out there, and the experience was cold but enlightening. I went to the Right House with an open mind, only to return home that evening with opened eyes.

I had finally decided to get out there, and the experience was cold but enlightening

When I told my parents where I was going to volunteer, they immediately jumped to conclusions about the people I was going to be serving. Assumptions were made about where these people lived (or where they didn’t), their substance-related habits, and their mental health. Why they may need food and why they don’t have access to it, these are questions that were not asked.

Food is a basic necessity, so why is it that so many have little to no access to food regularly? Why do we blame them rather than the systems that have failed them? Is this simply a reflection of what we are taught to think? Maybe if we blame individuals for their own unfortunate circumstances, we can ignore the large-scale failures of our institutions that allow these circumstances to exist.
The stigma not only exists but flourishes because we fail to see past the lies we are presented with. Like many others, I didn’t have a very positive perspective of downtown Hamilton, not until this Sunday at least. I felt a strong sense of community amongst these people who were complete strangers to me, and I look forward to attending another Food Not Bombs Weekly Serve so I can return at least a little of the warmth and welcoming that I received that evening.