A place of their own


All voluntary, always free, always accessible Richmond food, not the bombs is looking for a new home.

“Createspace was amazing,” says Laney Sullivan, an FNB grassroots Food Not Bombs volunteer for five years. “But we’ve all decided it’s best for us to move to a space where we can build a kitchen to expand our capacity and find a place more in line with our [not-for-profit] values.”

For nearly 30 years, people like Sullivan have served vegan or vegetarian meals to anyone who needs to eat — no questions asked — once a week in Monroe Park.

Before moving to Createspace in 2017, the Richmond chapter of the global food-for-all movement operated solely from people’s homes.

“It was… very intense in those houses,” Sullivan said. “We would produce a commercial amount of food, using giant pots and bins. We were setting up tables in the living room with everyone cutting and preparing food.

Createspace was a huge step forward for the guerrilla operation. “We were able to build a kitchen and install all of our equipment in Createspace,” says Sullivan. “We had a compost pile out back, a garden, a pantry.”

As part of its continued evolution, Sullivan says FNB is currently looking for retail space along Hull Street or somewhere in the Southside, East End or Northside, “it’s on the bus route and easily accessible.” If the stars aligned, they would also potentially like to partner with other like-minded organizations to create a kind of “help center”.

To facilitate the transition, FNB has created a online fundraising page; since its launch in late February 2022, the campaign has already raised over $8,000 towards its $10,000 goal. This is thanks to the generous contributions of community members, including three large sums raised by Black Rabbit Tattoo artists through online raffles.

“Well done to the community,” says Sullivan, who has worked for the Richmond FNB Chapter for 15 years, wearing, as community volunteers are wont to do, many hats.

While she used to be more out in the field, helping to lift heavy boxes and prepare scavenged food every weekend, of late Sullivan, with a three-month-old baby at home, has been serving organization behind the scenes.

“We have about 20 people in our communication thread, and our volunteer page has nearly 500 people, we have a large network,” she says. “I would encourage people who have volunteered in the past to consider re-committing as we make this transition.”

The transition will simultaneously require moving FNB equipment out of Createspace and finding a place to store it, while continuing to serve the community – 30 to 100 people depending on the weather, every Sunday in Monroe Park.

The philosophy of the FNB movement is to attract both helpers and those in need of help organically, creating “solidarity, not charity”. Sullivan insists that even if you can’t donate money to the cause, you can still donate time and energy.

Concretely, those interested can help in several ways: by connecting FNB with a 10×15 storage space to store the group’s refrigerators, stoves, shelves, sinks and more; by donating large plastic storage bins and hot or prepared meals on Sundays; helping the group find a temporary kitchen to use on Sundays as well as a home base with cheap or reduced rent; and volunteering to help move or pack the Createspace kitchen on Sundays in March.

In addition to FNB campaign supporters and their network of dedicated volunteers, Sullivan says the organization also receives support from Underground Kitchen, which donates prepared meals, and local grocery stores like Whole Foods and Good Foods, who donate groceries and pre-made sides and entrees.

If there are any groceries or meals left over, Sullivan says nothing is wasted. “We only compost the rotten stuff,” she says. “We have drop off locations like aged care facilities and community refrigerators where we will take anything that is not in use.”

To donate to the Richmond Food Not Bomb Moving Fund, go here.

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