Every Sunday around noon, a variety of people begin to gather in the small park behind the Rockford Public Library. Homeless, walkers, bike riders, and regular park-goers are just part of the eclectic crowd that congregates every week.
The group is meeting for Food Not Bombs. They procure food that was otherwise headed for the Dumpster from local organizations such as Grays IGA Foods, and The Bagel Place, and turn the food into vegetarian meals, which are then handed out freely to anyone who happens to wander by.
I had the opportunity to help out Sunday, Aug. 29. I was greatly impressed with what I experienced. The people behind this association all arrived around noon with a meal ready to go. Bowls and cups were placed out along with French onion soup, bread, bagels, water and tea. We were busy upon arrival, doling out free food to the people who happened to be hungry. After the rush, we all sat back, talked about many random things, all the while maintaining a peaceful, friendly atmosphere to all those who joined in.
The people in this group are truly caring. They spend their Sundays and their spare time finding, cooking, and planning out meals. They also spend time regulating group funds and planning future benefits to add to their organization.
This group is a stepping-stone for community involvement. The food is handed out with no strings attached. There is no sermon or other task that must be completed before these people are allowed to eat. Pamphlets are laid out on a table promoting social awareness, but they are not handed out or even mentioned when the portions of foodstuffs are dispensed. Everyone is accepted; no one is ever turned away.
The Food Not Bombs group is a sad rarity in this country that never seems to promote an act of kindness without some type of reward. The gentleness and kindness I experienced from spending a few hours in the company of this casual group of people really made me question the role we all have in society. If more people were as giving as what I witnessed this weekend, I think many of the mishaps in this world would be dramatically reduced.
But as with most volunteer efforts, funding is always a problem. Local businesses do provide a lot of the necessary provisions, but there is always a need for more. Since this group isnt as well known as some other charitable organizations, they do not receive as much assistance. It is hoped this will soon change, and they will be able to continue to help those who need help simply for the sake of it, as it should be.
To make a contribution to Food Not Bombs, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. They will contact you to set up a time and a place for the donation to be picked up.