Keith McHenry, founder of Food Not Bombs, who started off our cover story about the movement last month, has spent 30 years traveling around and serving free food at protests and uprisings. So it's only natural that he'd be getting in on some of the "Occupy Wall Street" action that's happening across the country (Fort Lauderdale has its first on October 8).
McHenry left his home in Taos last week, driving his van to the occupation in Chicago. "It went from 20 people the first night to 100 on the second night to 200 by the time I left," McHenry says. "We were near the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Some of the workers there just kind of ignored us, but after a while, some were showing support. It was so dang cool."
After that, McHenry drove to Wall Street, setting up a table at Liberty Plaza (a private park that serves as the protest's headquarters) and serving food.
"The Food Not Bombs kids there had already been going out a lot to make sure everybody had the food that they needed. They had mostly peanut-butter sandwiches, because it was easier to transport. I set up a literature table, and people were just swarming me. I met a lot of people I knew only through Facebook and email." McHenry is providing updates on his travels through his Facebook page.
After two days in New York, McHenry drove to Washington, D.C., and found a group of protesters in McPherson Park who had no idea there was a larger protest happening at Freedom Plaza. "I ended up spending two nights there, cooking out of the back of my van."
McHenry's van, an old Chevy, started having engine troubles when he was partway across the country, stopping often to field calls from Food Not Bombs supporters who wanted to start participating in the Occupy actions. He stopped at a mechanic's shop in New York that wanted to charge him $90 an hour.
But when the mechanic saw the load of rice and beans in the back, McHenry says, he asked what they were for. "He told his boss to charge me just 30 bucks," says McHenry.
And the problem with the van? "I think it was because I had so much rice in it. I moved a bunch of rice to my front seat."
Here's a video interview with McHenry during his stop in Chicago: