Thursday, November 25, 2010

Long Island Food Not Bombs

Very Awesome - Hempstead "chapter" of LIFNB take action with very impressive results. The below article is from NEWSDAY.

Group shares vegetarian food with 800 in Hempstead
November 21, 2010 by JENNIFER BARRIOS

A spicy aroma of pumpkin filled the air in the Hempstead Long Island Rail Road parking lot Sunday, as volunteers from Long Island Food Not Bombs brought out boxes of homemade vegan entrees along with thousands of pounds of groceries to share with the men, women, and children who waited eagerly for the goods.

Hundreds of people clutched plastic shopping bags and waited patiently as about 100 volunteers from the group unloaded box after box of vegetables, bread, fruit, cereal and prepared items, and carried them to tables that lined Columbia Street.

Leo Hatcher, 48, of Hempstead, filled his wheeled cart with bread, rolls, organic canned tomatoes and cookies.

"I'm just here to put some food in the cabinets," said Hatcher, who added that his food stamps often run out before the end of the month. "This is pretty much what I really needed."

Long Island Food Not Bombs co-founder Jon Stepanian said the group brought about 30,000 pounds of vegetarian food - edible, but unable to be sold by the grocery stores and food distributors that donated it - to the parking lot for its Thanksgiving Food Share Bonanza. They estimated about 800 people showed up during the day.

The group doesn't distribute turkeys or other meats, but organizers aimed to provide everything else that goes along with a traditional Thanksgiving feast. Stepanian said the groceries provided Sunday will keep people from having to choose between buying food and paying utility bills.

"We take a little bit of that pressure off," he said.

Long Island Food Not Bombs is part of an international movement that helps to distribute edible food that would otherwise be discarded because it is slightly damaged or is close to its expiration date for freshness. Stepanian said the group doesn't consider itself as giving away food, but sharing it.

"We don't believe in charity - we believe food is a right," he said.

Volunteer Jessica Feldman spent her day off from work Sunday helping to move the crowds of people along the different tables.

Feldman, an employee of Whole Foods - one of the grocers that provides food for Food Not Bombs - said she started to volunteer with the group after she became curious about what they did with the vegetables her employer donated to them.

"As soon as I went to one share, I was hooked," said Feldman, 23. "Once you see a child who needs food and you give food to them, it's a beautiful thing."

Angie Houseworth, 42, of Hempstead, said she waited at the railroad parking lot for hours before the food distribution began, and came away with her wheeled cart filled to the brim with fresh organic produce and even a bouquet of flowers.

Houseworth said both she and her husband are out of work, and she was grateful for the overflowing cart.

"We were all trying to get everything together for the holidays," she said. "It makes a big difference."

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