Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry takes calls on attempts to criminalize public feedings

05/11/11 Seán Kinane
Last Call Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:


Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry in St. Petersburg.

photo by Andrea Lypka

Welcome to the WMNF afternoon call-in show the Last Call. I’m Seán Kinane. This afternoon we’ll talk about efforts by cities across Florida that are making it more difficult – and in some cases illegal – to feed people in public parks.

Joining us in this conversation is the co-founder of Food Not Bombs, Keith McHenry. He’s in St. Petersburg right now helping to cook a meal for people in downtown’s Mirror Lake Park. Thank you for Joining us Keith.

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Guess which one I’d rather watch…

They've outlawed breastfeeding in public parks... can't feed the bears in Jellystone Park... what makes these guys so special??? Take the food to a federally funded shelter or to Metropolitan Ministries!!! They are always looking for help...

Don't Reward Bad Behavior

It's just common sense. Our goal is to live self-sufficiently. As families. To that end, we plan ahead, work hard, and save our money against unplanned setbacks -like losing a job. We do not reward people who ignore our values by feeding them. Let them go to a shelter but stay out of my park.


With a bad economy it's hard to get jobs, especially if you didn't come from a fortunate place already. And parks are for communities and building communities. Food is the essence of life, why deny life and nurturing people?

No Bums!

Parks are for communities, it's true. But the community cannot enjoy their parks when they're crowded with people we'd really prefer not to rub elbows with --criminals and derelicts, alcoholics who can't hold a job and hustlers. Most of the community want our parks free of this type of human parasites so we can enjoy them with our families in peace and not be hustled or confronted or offended. Parks are not the only people where these dregs of society can get "life and nurturing". Summer invites all you bums over to her place --if she even HAS a place. She probably sleeps on someone else's couch. Free.

Re: No Bums!

Don, The language that you used in your comment about the homeless being fed in public parks is of a fascist nature. Assuming that homeless people are worthless to society, is precisely how these same people get assaulted, murdered and ostracized from the community. The portion of the panhandling, scamming, and living off the backs of working people is minuscule compared to the wealthy bankers and wall street have committed against the working people. And where's your outrage with that? The truth is there is none... Everyone should be a valued member of our society, everybody in, nobody left out. That goes for the wealthy scammers too...

There isn't any...

I didn't see any wealthy bankers in the park getting fed -or hanging around the park waiting to snatch someone's purse --or I would have mentioned them too. I say what I say, not only for me, but for the weaker members of our society. I am protective of my family, parents, and elderly. So stay out of my park, you dead beats!

Re: There isn't any...

Don, the best way for people to protect others is, to realize that people who don't have money for food, are going to eat somewhere. Even if they have to take it from others. By seeing that people have their basic needs met makes the world much safer. And by the way, it's not your park, it's the communities park. So, you don't have a right to exclude people based on your personal dislikes. Also, the wealthy banker who stole your purse, doesn't eat at the park, maybe an expensive restaurant...

It’s called desensitization…

Don… you’re missing Chucks point. Middle class conservative folks like US and our families are fair game to be openly offended. So… do what I do. Any chance I get… I will take the younger members of my immediate and extended family to art galleries, art shows and museums. I make it a point to let them get up close and personal with all of the most offensive works of “art” I can find… and we talk about how anything can be “art” and how beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Whenever I see public displays of “personal art” (piercings, tattoos, extreme clothing) I point it out. Now… when members of my family and I are enjoying the public parks… and we trip over some junkie with a needle hanging out of his/her arm, pants down around the knees, bleeding from the anus and passed out in their own vomit… everyone simply says… “Oh look… it’s an installation piece!!!” Dude… learn to appreciate it for what it isn’t…


Can't we all just get along?