Not Only Food

I would normally be going to Des Moines this morning to help put together boxes of food with my Des Moines Mutual Aid friends. I won’t because predictions for heavy snow overnight would make travel hazardous. The predictions were accurate. And my brother is visiting.

The Des Moines Mutual Aid’s (DMMA) Points of Unity expresses what Mutual Aid is about. DMMA has several projects. One is the free food distribution, which the following describes. This continues the Black Panther Party school breakfast program.

A principle of Mutual Aid is to invite others into the work, mobilizing people and building movements. The statement above is given to those who come to us for food, inviting anyone to join.

One of my Mutual Aid friends asked how I became involved (long story). Then she told me she used to come because she needed food. Now she is happy she can join in the work of distributing the food.

There are three key elements of Mutual Aid.

  1. Mutual aid projects work to meet survival needs and build shared understanding about why people do not have what they need.
  2. Mutual aid projects mobilize people, expand solidarity, and build movements.
  3. Mutual Aid projects are participatory, solving problems through collective action rather than waiting for saviors.

    Mutual Aid, Building Solidarity during this Crisis (and the next) by Dean Spade, Verso, 2020

Now all of us are facing food insecurity as we see grocery stores beginning to have trouble stocking their shelves. I hope this will result in more Mutual Aid projects.

A recent article reminded me about Food Not Bombs.

Every Wednesday, a mix of New Paltz college students and locals congregate in a small workspace just outside of town. It may look like they’re just cooking and packing food to deliver to needy families, but it’s really more than that.

“Like when people say, ‘serving the community,’ well, we want to build a community,” said Katari Sisa, a volunteer for Food Not Bombs New Paltz.

Sisa, a recent graduate of SUNY New Paltz, has been involved at the organization for the last four years now. Sisa says that giving back is necessary right now, with a pandemic raging and, according to data collected by the University of Southern California, nearly 37% of Americans are dealing with food insecurity.

“This is part of a larger project, kind of like a larger vision for a community center and having a kind of consistent spot to do stuff like this from,” Sisa said.

The ultimate goal, organizers say, is to build unity between people and create a more equitable community.

FOOD NOT BOMBS AIMS TO BRING MORE THAN JUST FOOD By John Camera, Spectrum Local News, February 3, 2021

Randomly passing an accomplice on the street and throwing up a fist at each other as we go our separate ways to destroy all that is rotten in this world will never fail to give me extra energy and a single tear of gratitude for what this city is creating.

my friend Ronnie James, Des Moines Mutua Aid

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