A friendly announcement from the Food Working Group

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Press Releases.

It is not just the ideas that are important, these spaces are fundamental to the possibility of a new world…It is up to us to make sure they are safe, inclusive, and just.

– solidarity statement from Cairo

Hello Occupiers and Friends! In the coming days the People’s Kitchen of Occupy Wall Street will be initiating some changes to help us better fulfill our mission to feed the movement. For three days, we will be serving simplified meals to give us a chance to work on our operations, and also to provide an opportunity for our entire community to reflect on where we are coming from and where we are headed as a movement.

We encourage all Occupiers to take this chance to clarify our commitment to the values and goals that we share in this movement, and to embrace this period as a time for conversation and action to strengthen our community and build a safe, inclusive, and open environment in the park, in line with our Community Guidelines. We will be going from camp to camp, working group to working group, to talk with you about how we can improve our community in Liberty Plaza and replicate these values in the larger world.

As occupations across the country are under threat of eviction, it is our responsibility to ensure that the spaces we create are consistent with our ideas about a better world. We’d like to ask that you take these three days to focus on how you can create positive change in the park, in this occupation, and in this country, and to plan actions within your affinity groups and working groups.

We ask you to please bear in mind that security and safety concern everyone in the park. As part of the Good Neighbor policy and on behalf of all our hard-working and dedicated volunteers, your patience and kindness are greatly appreciated during this time of reflection and action.

This three day action was consensed upon by the Kitchen, an autonomous working group open to all members of the community, after many days of conversations and open meetings with members of various working groups, including Security and De-escalation, Structure, Comfort, Sanitation, Community Watch, Finance, Direct Action, S.I.S., Facilitation and the Peace Council.

Our mission in the kitchen is to create a revolutionary space for breaking bread and building community. Let’s do this together!

How does simplifying the kitchen’s menu for three days relate to our movement?

Back to basics (for three days)

We want both the Food Working Group and the community we feed to have three days of clarifying our commitment to the Occupy Wall Street movement and how we can propel it forward. Meals will continue to be served, but it will be simpler fare, and the same meals will be given to everyone.

A Stronger Kitchen

Our network of suppliers, volunteers, donated kitchens, and drivers is currently fragile, and could lead to an interruption in food at any time. Having a planned scale-back for three days allows us to strengthen our operations, and will lead to greater stability of our food supply, and of the occupation.

Whaddya mean? I thought the food prepared itself!

To serve 1,200 people at each mealtime, we move hundreds of pounds of produce and supplies every day, run two offsite kitchens, and coordinate dozens of volunteer cooks and drivers. We’re trying to scale back and simplify our operations for three days so that we can improve this extensive network that brings food to the camp every day. We also need time to reflect within the Food Working Group about how to best fulfill our mission of feeding the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Winter is Coming

The Food Working Group needs to make preparations for the change of seasons. Spring, summer, and next fall are also coming – we’re not going anywhere! – but we need to take time to prepare.

What will be served in the three days?

Simple meals (such as beans and rice, PB&J, fresh fruit), water and tea will continue to be served.

When will it take effect?

This three day action will take place Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 28-30, 2011.

What about all the food donations that get brought to the kitchen?

If you want to make food donations during these three days, you could either wait until after the kitchen fully reopens, or bring the donations to a local soup kitchen ( please visit http://www.foodbanknyc.org/ and search by zip code to find your local food pantry), or distribute the food yourself in the park. We are also coordinating with Liberatos Pizza and other vendors that deliver donated prepared food to give us credit for orders placed during the three days that we are scaling back our operations.

Who is this Food Working Group and what gives them the right to mess with my food?

The decision to simplify the kitchen’s operations for three days is within Food’s mandate as an autonomous working group whose mission is providing food to the occupation in Liberty Plaza. We believe that changing our normal operations for three days will allow us to regroup and do a better job in carrying out this mission, and we hope it will provide an opportunity for all working groups to collectively re-evaluate where we are in the movement, both in Liberty Plaza and across the country. Anyone can join the Food Working Group, and if you eat food from the kitchen at Zuccotti Park, you know where to find us. Our regular meetings are at 5:15 pm most days at 60 Wall Street, and you can contact us at occupiedkitchen@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter at @OWS_KITCHEN.

In Solidarity,
The Food Working Group of Occupy Wall Street

Download this Press Release as a PDF.

16 Responses to “A friendly announcement from the Food Working Group”

  1. Raquel Baranow

    U guys should try cooking up corn & soybeans. I lived on nothing but corn & soybeans for a year with a pinch of salt and vitamin C. I bought the corn by the bushel at a feed store and bushel of soybeans at tofu factory, a farmer, and seed store (in New Jersey). (Mix two parts corn to soybeans; I’d run the corn through a grainmill twice and the soybeans once.) I also lived on brown rice & lentils. Most of the corn & soybeans in U$A is fed to pigs & cows.

    Here’s a pic of something U cooked that looks really good!

  2. June

    Do you know that almost all corn and soybeans in this country are genetically modified (GMO) unless they are labelled organic? Do you know about the dangers of genetically modified food? I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone. Also, soy is a digestive irritant and many people are allergic/sensitive to it, and corn is not all that nutritious. Good job with the brown rice and lentils, though.

  3. Gabriel

    corn and soybeans sound healthier than skippy peanut butter which is usually the kind i see showing up when pb&j are served….honestly i gave up on the kitchen a few weeks back when the food got scarcer and scarcer love you guys but i figured if food was tight i’d rather let other people have it and get mine my own way…

  4. Chithra KarunaKaran

    I like Jake’s idea of re-assessing OccupyKitchen’s strategy. I have worked in the kitchen at Equality(akaZuccotti) Park.

    Change-making Conversations over healthy, nutritious food are really valuable to build the staying power of the occupation.

    I have a concern about the disposables that are used at mealtimes. I have been carrying my own.
    Can we try some tough love and have folks bring their own utensils?
    Prominent signs needed to encourage that. Be glad to help.

    • Marlisa

      We’ve been working on a better solution to our utensil situation for a while in the kitchen, and are working on possible compostable solutions, or a system of reusable bowls etc. We do encourage everyone to bring their own, and we will be working on this issue among many others in the next three days – suggestions would be much appreciated!

      In Solidarity,

      Marlisa from OWS Kitchen

  5. Tony Buontempo

    Food For EVERYONE.

    I think it is time to call in Food Not Bombs. This issue of some people being more worthy to eat is NOT in line with the Movement’s requirement of solidarity. This is the way of the lie, capitalism. In this failed system, if you do not work you do not eat. This is not in line with the solidarity in this movement.

    When Marx wrote “each according to his wants, each according to his needs,” the point he is making is that some of us are capable of doing more than others. Others have greater requirements than our comrades.

    If there is an issue because some are over worked, than the system needs to be changed. But do not deny some food because of a perception they are not worthy.

    I was there on Day One. I remember going that night down to the Pharmacy a couple of blocks away with three other guys to get 250 bottles of water. That was enough water on Day One until the next afternoon when I went again. I am sure that four guys carrying 12 containers of water would not be enought for 12 to 15 hours today.

    Things have changed, the occupation has grown, so it is time to bring in an organization that is accustomed to dealing with this many people: Food Not Bombs is the organization.

    Eating together is a deeply rooted human symbol. To deny some becuase they are ill, homeless, smell bad, or lazy is to deny their humanity, and to remove all hope of personal conscious evolution.

    This movement is building new concepts of how to structure our society. Denying people the fruits of the movement is to much like the old failed capitalist system that we are changing.

    Under no circumstances should anyone be denied food:


    • Marlisa

      Hi Tony –

      We in the Food working group hear you and agree with what you are saying! We are not denying anyone food – in these three days there will be simple meals available to all. We always have and will still continue to serve a huge range of people in the kitchen, from homeless to bankers, young and old.

      What was reported in the NY Post and spread through conservative media as “OWS protesters refusing to feed the homeless” was hearsay and rumor intended to degrade the movement, and was reported before our working group had issued this statement. If you have questions after reading this statement, we are happy to talk more about our reasons for the three day action, and we’re looking forward to updating you all on the new developments and ideas that we will be generating in the coming days.

      (Also, we love Food Not Bombs too – they’ve been instrumental and fantastic in OWS all along)

      In Solidarity,

      Marlisa from OWS Kitchen

  6. Athena Grey

    Speaking as a Part Time occupier, I want to thank the Food WG for their efforts. You make it possible for me to show up straight from work and stay through GA.

    Food really is the heart of the community. Even the line is a huge part of community–this is where I forge connections with other occupiers, get news on meetings I’ve missed, and share what I know.

    I hope there will still be meals for part timers in the new solution.

  7. Sherman Cheung

    Food not Bombs is par tof the Kitchen. No need in calling them, they are already there.

  8. Sherman Cheung

    Good Job for those in the Kitchen. I haven’t eaten in the park for at least 3 weeks, because the Lines were so long. maybe perhaps after the three days, and this thing gets sort out, i’ll see a smaller line and maybe I can eat in the park again, Like I used to, starting from September 17th.

  9. Anne

    Guess I’m not really a Marxist, because I believe if people contribute nothing, they should receive nothing. The City already operates food pantries, drop-in centers and homeless shelters, paid for by our (my anyway) tax dollars. I don’t think people around the country sent in donations for feeding homeless people who have no interest in the movement and who want to save their welfare/disability money for drugs. I think those donations were meant for people working in the movement. Believe me, you’ll never be able to feed all the freeloaders in this city, and once you make it a policy to feed everyone you will attract not hundreds or thousands but tens of thousands.

    • Tony Buontempo

      Anne, I do not believe you are not part of this movement, at least the conscious raising spirit of this movement.

      I have been worried that people have been attending OWS, and have no idea how this came into being. It is time to begin the process of speaking publicly about the principles of this movement.

      The entire concept that someone does not have a right to food is completely antithetical to Occupy Wall Street. That is Capitalism. Marxism has nothing to do with it.

      This is a Working Class Solidarity movement. All because someone is mentally or physically ill, lazy, psychologically unbalanced has no bearing on the right to food, not to mention, housing, health care, education, and a job. No bearing whatsoever. They have a RIGHT to the fruits of society, even if they did not create them. In capitalism people have no right to the necessities of life. In this Movement, they do. They have the right.

      If you do not understand this, then you have no idea how or why this movement was started. Calling out the corruption on Wall Street was the unifying clarion call and the final straw that gave this revolution its walking legs.

      But the structure of this movement was planned a head of time. The structure of a General Assembly is a Direct Democracy. This is historically the venue of the Anarcho Syndicalist.

      This is in effect the TYPE of government of Occupy Wall Street; we are an Anarcho-Syndicalist system.

      I am of the opinion a lot of people are attending OWS and have not done any background as to what all this means. I think in this must change. It is most likely in part because the corporate controled media would use this as a wedge to lower public support of this movement. But this argument over food has brought this to a head and it must now be discussed openly.

      The Anarcho-Syndicalist government structure puts the workers in direct control, OF EVERYTHING. There is complete and unbreachable solidarity among the workers. This means if a fellow worker is hungry, sick, tiered, a lazy loafer, a drug addict, a bum, or whatever, I will take care of him or her. No questions asked. None. I will carry his load if he is to lazy to do it. Unbreachable, non-judgmental, unconditional solidarity. Similarly to how bourgeois society does this at the family level.

      This is why OWS is the single biggest Working Class threat to the Establishment since the 1930’s.

      Let me reiterate, your above statement is not in line with the essence of this Working Class Movement, Solidarity.

      Food is at the forefront of this solidarity.

      • kelley

        I agree with you Tony, and I would like to add one point to Anne:

        Our value system in society needs to change in order for equality to ever have the possibility of existing. OWS is taking strides to change this by the nature of our community, working groups, and GA: i.e; under capitalism, one gains value for taking and consuming. People pride themselves on what they own and how much money they have; in a non-capitalistic system (and that does not necessarily mean socialism or communism-or any other freakin “ism”) one gains value for contributing and giving. People pride themselves on how much they create and contribute. People are most easily motivated into doing the things they do based on what has more value…thus, if the values were to change (individually over time of course-no toleration society here!) we would probably see, on a whole, more people actively contributing, participating, and educating. This would not only mean that people who do not contribute will still recieve, but, overall, there stands a good estimate of more people contributing resulting in less freeloading or taxing (pun here) from “the system.”

      • SallyinChicago

        I’ve been reading these posts for a while, and I agree with Anne. That there are the homeless and criminal who are trying to use the movement as a shield and taking advantage of the goodness of the movement. There are food pantries for them. Anyone can use the food pantry. I don’t contribute money to feed homeless people who don’t have a clue about the movement and won’t do their part toward the movement. I wonder if you guys can get OWS rubber bands or stamp the hands of people who have marched and supported you, in order for them to get fed FIRST and foremost and the others to get fed last?

  10. Seth Knappen

    Tony Buontempo makes some great points about the ideological need to continue feeding everyone, and Marlisa’s reply is wonderful and much appreciated. The unflattering media spin out of this is unfortunate, and something that needs to be addressed strongly.

    The homeless are the other extreme end of the spectrum, the “other 1%,” and our movements solidarity with their plight is necessary if we are to continue to hold the moral high ground on many issues that many in the movement hold dear. Denial of anothers need doesn’t fit with a message of collective interdependence and care for all, which is, in my opinion, one of our greatest strengths.

    If it is determined by consensus that there are agreed upon concerns about safety or resource scarcity, it behooves us to find a better solution than to start lopping off parts of the whole and becoming exclusionary. I am confident that we can and will find these solutions, together, but we must make clear that it is NOT ok to cut the bottom 1% out of our realm of care and concern. We cannot replicate that terrible social dynamic in our fledgling society. This is a wonderful problem to be facing, as it will drive us toward wonderful and forward-thinking solutions. Let’s stay positive and avoid the contraction of spirit that accompanies fear and divisiveness.