food not bombs co-founder cited by health officials for serving free meals without a permit

by Tim Phillips

Keith McHenry helped start Food Not Bombs (FNB) in Massachusetts in 1980. He helped start the second chapter, in California, in 1988. In the early 1990s, dozens of FNB chapters throughout the U.S. regularly served free food in public. According to Chris Dixon’s introduction to Chris Crass’s new book, Towards Collective Liberation,

… FNB (then as now) functioned as a form of gateway activism for tens of thousands of mostly young people. Through FNB, countless activists have learned about economic inequality and the role of the state in preserving it, and have experienced their own power to take direct action and create alternative institutions.

How does the state preserve economic inequality? In New Mexico, state health officials have apparently threatened to seek a court order to stop McHenry from serving free meals without a permit. McHenry was issued a notice of violation last Saturday.

Though FNB hasn’t encountered many legal difficulties in Taos, New Mexico, McHenry has been jailed for his involvement in FNB chapters in San Francisco and Orlando. In response to this recent threat, he said he’ll continue serving free vegan meals every week, as he has around the country for 33 years.