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Sharing Food With the Homeless: Churches and Anarchists Agree on Something, It Seems

Fresh off a late evening with the Hollywood Food Not Bombs group (sharings on Thursday in front of Young Circle Publix, around 7 p.m.), the Pulp woke up early Friday to get another side of the food-sharing story, this one from Robin Martin, head of HOPE South Florida.

HOPE is a coalition of Fort Lauderdale's largest churches, which have teamed up to provide services for the city's homeless. Part of that model -- but by no means all of it -- involves bringing food to people who are left to fend for themselves outside of the shelter system. In other words, sharing food freely in public places.

The city is trying to draft a plan that would

sequester food-sharing efforts to a mutually agreed-upon spot, which is tricky because local neighbors and businesses rebel whenever they consider the prospect of dozens of hungry homeless people flocking to their neighborhood. So HOPE is working to find a location that would enable church groups, charities, and other groups to rotate through, serving meals all week long.

"We want to be a part of a catalyst to bring together various groups," says Martin. Does that include Food Not Bombs, the nonreligious, often anti-authoritarian food-sharing group? Martin says that collaboration is certainly possible.

He says that many of the people who are distributing food now are young, activist Christians who are disenchanted with "their parents' religion," choosing to go outside the traditional systems of charity to bring food to the homeless. Sounds a lot like the people behind Food Not Bombs.

HOPE's eventual goal is for a "community café," with one guy working in the kitchen, one guy in front, and various groups rotating through. "That would be a rallying point for all of those people currently serving the homeless downtown," says Martin.

Finding a spot for it will be tough, especially since talks with the city haven't advanced much in the past few weeks. But Martin calls the need for food sharing "a long-term problem" in which the central need is establishing some sort of face-to-face community for people who are isolated from society. "I'm in this for the long haul," he says. 

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Stefan Kamph
Contact: Stefan Kamph