Discussion & Thoughts - The Thanksgiving Bonanza 2010
The 2010 Hempstead Food Share Bonanza was the largest Food Not Bombs ever and the largest vegan Thanksgiving ever! On that day over 30,000 pounds of food was shared with thousands of people, and Long Island Food Not Bombs followed this with nearly a dozen consecutive Thanksgiving events throughout the rest of the week, sharing a total of nearly 55,000 pounds of groceries in 5 days! It was solidarity, it was incredible and it was inspiring. So we invite you to learn more about what happened, watch videos, see photos, read thoughts, see our special thanks, check out media coverage and share your thoughts.
At 1:30pm a caravan of nearly 40 vehicles overflowing with groceries, hot vegan meals, clothing, books and other goodies pulled into the Hempstead Train Station parking lot and was greeted by hundreds of excited community members.
A line of vehicles stretched across the quarter mile lot. One car at a time would pull up, hundreds of volunteers would help unload it, that car would pull away, another would pull up in its place and the unloading process would start all over again. After about 45 minutes of this we were ready to begin.
The Hempstead Food Share Bonanza encompassed over two city blocks and we had items spread across 35 tables set up in specialized areas similar to what you’d find in a food store. (You can see lots of great photos in our Slideshow)
On the east end of Station Plaza people organized and shared thousands of pounds of clothing, books and apparel. There were warm weather jackets, brand new sneakers, pants & shirts of all sizes and awesome folks like Alex Reisner who helped people find what they were looking for.
More to the north on Station Plaza, there were four tables of awesome hot vegan food. With over 70 meals there was something for everyone, coconut rice with Thai style tofu, potato skins, pasta with red wine soy protein, stuffed peppers and incredible desserts like tofu pumpkin cheese cakes, apple cider cupcakes, peanut butter cookies, brownies etc… We even had a latte table with coffee, apple cider, hot tea, syrups and soy whipped cream.
Off W. Columbia St. we had nearly half a dozen tables set up with a vast array of fresh produce and breads; things like whole wheat baguettes, tortillas, muffins, sweet potatoes, apples, cauliflower, grapes, bananas, squash, salads, etc… Awesome volunteers like Julia Hernandez made sure everyone got five or six filled bags of really healthy stuff.
On the West end of the Hempstead Train Station parking lot we had another half dozen tables with Thanksgiving groceries. There were pies, scones, cakes, juices, Vegan Raw Ice Creams, cereals, milks, canned goods, teas, root beers, dried fruits, flowers, mixed nuts, etc.
Finally, in the middle of the pedestrian island in parking lot, Keith McHenry the Co-founder of the international Food Not Bombs movement, who joined us for the day’s event, set up an information table and educated hundreds on the incredible history of Food Not Bombs.
Expanding on Thoughts:
I wrote the following in regards to last year’s bonanza, and a year later it’s even truer than ever: “The bonanza was simply awesome! Even amongst newcomers there was this great sense of community behind it and that’s what I feel makes us so strong. Long Island Food Not Bombs isn’t about charity, nor is it about giving handouts or providing donations. What we’re about is solidarity with our community.
At a food share we are all equal, we are all welcomed to participate and when we make decisions we all have a voice; we all have a say. Our goal isn’t to just put a bandage on the problems that exist in our community; our goal is to solve them. For example, Long Island Food Not Bombs doesn’t just give out a hot meal we collectively share most, if not all, of what a person might need for their week.
It seems simple, but that action addresses the hunger that exists in our community. It means that parents might not need a second or third job and can spend more time with their kids. It means that a family of four struggling to get by can save $80 a week off their grocery bill, $4,160 a year, and $74,880 over an 18 year period. Or in other words, it means that family can now send their 2 kids to college.
The truth of the matter is that I can write forever about the Thanksgiving Bonanza, about Long Island Food Not Bombs, about our food shares. What is happening right now is based in an awesome community, it’s uniquely different, and it has a seemly endless potential.
So where do I go from here? What is it that I hope you gain from this?... If there is only one thing you, the reader, gain from these testimonials I hope it’s a bravado to get sh*t done, to take responsibility in making something incredible and take what you love to the next level. We can help you, we can show you how to get 30,000 pounds of food, feel free to ask us questions or share your thoughts. Dialogue is what we’re looking for; it’s the road we take toward greater things.”
With much love, & liberation,
JonSTeps & Long Island Food Not Bombs.
Ryan, Julia, Jamie, Brian, the Christofi family, Jon, Vinnie and Mari have done a great job with sharing thier thoughts about what the Thanksgiving Bonanza meant to them. Please read on and hear what they have to say.
“I find myself going through a paradigm shift. Food Not Bombs has been the source of this momentous change of perspective. While I may harbor a bias for community-based organizations, as one currently employs me, this one is the most effective I have borne witness to in my entire life.
First off, LIFNB has taught me that finances are no excuse for inaction. The most impressive element of the food share is that it serves thousands of meals weekly with zero capital down. This compared to the countless number of non-profits in the world that claim ineffectiveness due to scarcity of finances.
While I love to idealize about a world in which money isn't a limiting factor, LIFNB has turned this dream into a reality. I no longer believe money is keeping me from effecting change.
This lesson comes at a very opportune time, especially while many families are looking to learn how to live on less.” - Ryan Bowen
The Long Island Food Not Bombs Thanksgiving Bonanza really was a bonanza of produce, groceries, clothing, supplies, hot food, and people! I was amazed at how many volunteers and community members were there!
There are so many facets of the organization that I love – the fact that it salvages food that would otherwise be wasted, it shares free food with those in need, and it promotes vegetarianism. And it doesn’t promote vegetarianism in a negative way, for example by showing the horrors of factory farming, but it promotes it positively by sharing vegetarian organic food and meals with those not ordinarily exposed to them.
LIFNB has really made a positive impact on my life. I have made many new friends in the volunteers and people in the community; many whom I hope to keep in the contact with for the rest of my life.” - Julia Hernandez
Volunteering with Long Island Food Not Bombs has easily been one of the most rewarding, if not the single most rewarding, experiences of my life. I began volunteering regularly last spring and have in these few short months helped salvage what I would guess to be millions of pounds of food and have helped feed and clothe thousands of people every week. Together we provide a service that I believe is unrivaled. Which brings us to the Bonanza.
If it isn't obvious from it's name, the best way to describe the Long Island Food Not Bombs Thanksgiving Bonanza is epic - epic in vision, preparation, execution and reception. Somehow a rag-tag group of people was able to work together to create one of the biggest food shares ever.
We provided more fresh produce than people could hold, clothes in all styles and colors, Thanksgiving supplies so people less fortunate than us can enjoy a normal Thanksgiving dinner, books, flowers and enough hot vegan food and desserts for people to fill up their plate at least three times.
The atmosphere was incredible. When we started setting up I didn't know what to expect but you knew it was special. All of our flyering paid off because it seemed like we had the whole town waiting for us, all patient and excited. Then the next thing I knew, BAM, we were rolling! Lines moved along at a brisk pace, bags and bellies were filled and smiles were everywhere but it didn't end there!
We spent the next week gathering and sharing food. This included a dumpster diving Olympics (which was a huge success), a massive food share in Huntington and a Thanksgiving lunch in Farmingville followed by our normal Farmingville food share later that evening.
Ooh, and let's not forget about our successful Pies Not Bombs share in Huntington the day after Thanksgiving! Phew.
All of this, mind you, was done without any strict rules or bureaucracy. That is what makes Food Not Bombs stand out among the social services. There is no excuse for hunger in today's world of excess. Countless amounts of food is wasted every day and FNB does its best to save that food and share it with our neighbors while promoting a healthy, animal free diet. It's that simple. Find food, share it. Period. Done.
We are lucky enough to have the support of some very generous grocery stores but I am confident that even without their aid the weekly food shares would continue to roll on.
I have also made many friends since getting involved. It's such a warm, wonderful feeling to hear "Hi Jamie" from so many different people every week. I love volunteering with all these happy helpful people and I look forward to working with them each week. I would also like to express my gratitude for the work and planning done by Jon Stepanian and Vincent Cocca. They are both pretty modest about their roles in all of this but it is their intense enthusiasm, vision and hard work that make it easy for me to do my part.
I have always wanted to help those in need in some way, shape or form but lacked motivation and direction. After all my experiences with LIFNB I now feel much more confident about my ability to help no matter where I am in the world.
So yeah, this has been a pretty excellent experience. Helping people and making friends, that's what this has all been about and I can only see it getting bigger and better.” - Jamie Rosamilia
“Working in opposition to the stupidity of hunger and the criminality of waste is Food Not Bombs. Penetrating the apathy of "nothing can be done -ism", we show ourselves and our neighbors a way to combine energies, ideas, and resources to directly serve the needs of people who are struggling valiantly to transcend harsh circumstances.
Anyone who witnessed this year's Thanksgiving Bonanza Food Share will verify that there is a way to work collectively, efficiently, and compassionately to enjoy the bounty of food produced, as well as clothing, books, and other distributed donations.
Compare this scene to the holiday shopping mall trampling, stampeding chaos ... I will choose Food Not Bombs, won't you?” - Sincerely, Brian O'haire aka "Billionaire Brian”
“When my dear friend Brian O'haire mentioned FNB to me in 2009, my interest was piqued for sure. As an avid animal/environmental activist who has bounced around the states for the past 15 years, I thought this sounded, if nothing else, exceptionally interesting and right up my alley!!
I showed up in Hempstead for the 2009 Thanksgiving gathering. I was blown away by the energy, devotion and passion for the plight of solidarity. My two young sons (Chris and Vladimir) and niece and nephew (Maria and Billy) have joined in on the action. Being the relative of a militant activist (myself), this was nothing foreign to them. We've evolved into FNB junkies now! Celebrating our Sundays with Hempstead residents and grassrooting for this amazing movement. My children, work location, relatives, friends and now inboard with me by spreading the word and assisting me with collecting much
Luciano's Hair Designs in Massapequa Park (my employer) has been absolutely fantastic about setting up two donation bins, one for the Freeport Animal Shelter and the other for FNB. I assure you that my little Dodge Caliber fills up quickly by week's end...
My message to my children, friends, co-workers and strangers is that one person can in fact make a difference. Equality is the greatest gift (mindset) that I can possibly pass down to Chris and Vladimir. I am grateful and humbled by the devotion of like minded friends and strangers. I've quickly grown a great attachment to FNB and "our" mission.
My family looks forward to Sundays in Hempstead. My family looks forward to sharing our day with other volunteers and community members. I am rather proud to be a FNB volunteer and delighted that my family and coworkers have become great supporters...
I am quite confident that my co-workers and our Salon owner is like "here we go, again" when I start my spewing my "emotional script" on behalf of FNB, but they smile, and chime in anyway, as if we we’re a choir..... I LOVE MUSIC!!” - Eileen, Chris & Vladimir Christofi
"My body has been running on composted bio-diesel fuel the last couple of days, but the events leading up to and including the Thanksgiving Bonanza will stay with me forever. What an honour and a privilege to take part in such an empowering, communal experience that was about following your heart and exemplifying what a community is all about. Folks of all ages, ethnicities and circumstances came together to display firsthand that food is indeed a humyn right, not a privilege and we can feed & clothe everyone with a fraction of the resources that the conventional non-profit industrial complex uses!" - JON STAIRWAY TO DUMPSTERS
“Overall this was an extremely rewarding experience and I will never forget the amount of people that we helped or the ability to organize that we exhibited. I feel like my big role in all of this was support and organization.
I helped from October all the way to the big event with meetings, organizing, extra food and clothing pickups, answering hot line calls, storing extra food and clothing, driving supplies around, dumpster diving, cooking the night before and keeping the whole thing moving along. I say all these things like they were my sole responsibility, but that is not the truth by any means.
The LIFNB Vegan Thanksgiving Bonanza was an all out wild push for bigger better and crazier!
This was achieved by a big group of dedicated volunteers who were willing to get things done. We had over 100 garbage bags of clothing collected and sorted by volunteers. Over 500 lbs. of potatoes split in to 2.5lbs bags, and an additional 1,200+ lbs of potatoes shared with community members.
Almost 200 boxes of vegetarian cooking supplies distributed to community members including tomato sauce, soy milk, cereal, pasta, baking mixes, spices, and JUICES! This mountain of stuff was moved in one morning by almost 40 vehicles carrying about 50 volunteers. HUGE.
The community responded so well to our organization that they made the food share a breeze. That much free stuff can always cause a squabble, until everyone realizes that there is no such thing a scarcity. Lines shuffled, crowds rotated, and everyone left with smiles.When the last box had been packed away and the last piece of trash was swept up, we had to think about the next day.
The 2010 Dumpster Diving Olympics turned out to be a huge success. FNB-ers arrived to get their hands dirty and we had a big enough crowd to divide up into 4 teams. Our dumpstering stretched the entire geographical extent of Long Island (Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk). At the end of the night we collected so many treasures (like fun house mirrors!) and learned how wasteful our society can really be.
After a long night of Dumpster Diving our focus turned to Tuesday night and the 8,000 lbs pile of donations from grocery stores that had to be transported. I was able to get to the food share location early and work with volunteers and community members to get the site ready for the massive amount of food coming our way. When the cars arrived we got our tables stocked in about 15 minutes. The food was distributed in about 30 min. and then a sigh of relief.
I did not get to see the Farmingville lunch or food share but I did get to see an awesome amount of volunteerism, a really positive response from the community, an insane amount of reclaimed food, and some of the coolest people I have ever met. The LIFNB Vegan Thanksgiving solidifies my belief in Food not Bombs. This organization gives me the ability to give whatever I can to people who need it. Food Not Bombs is about direct action and I can get behind that.
I can't wait until next year to make it bigger, and better, and crazier again!" - Vincent Cocca
"For over a year I've heard about Long Island Food Not Bombs through being a fan on facebook, before ever participating in their events. I've been involved in Food Not Bombs in Binghamton, New York for several years before ever connecting to the Long Island chapter, but I grew up in Long Island and was very intrigued by the great work being accomplished by LIFNB. When I had a chance to be on Long Island for the past several months, I knew LIFNB was a project that I had to be involved with.
The Thanksgiving Bonanza was unlike anything I've ever seen. It is clear just how much food and other useful items are being wasted, once they are all reclaimed and distributed at a HUGE food/clothing-share like the Hempstead Thanksgiving Bonanza. For me, this event was all about sharing food that would have otherwise been wasted, seeing Long Island's vast economic and racial disparities in a different light, and getting to know some really fantastic people in the process.
Even though I was a very new and temporary member to the LIFNB projects, I felt as welcomed as an old friend. Being a part of the Thanksgiving Bonanaza was such an inspiring moment for myself and a huge moment for the Food Not Bombs movement. It is very powerful to be a part of the reclamation and distribution of food and other items that would have otherwise been sent to the dumpster.
Food Not Bombs symbolizes the way that I have changed personally and politically throughout my young adult life. Rarely have I felt more inspired and accomplished than being a part of these enormous efforts. I never thought that I would find such a wonderful community of people during my time on Long Island, but I an so grateful that I have. I am now back in Binghamton, working on projects such as Food Not Bombs, and always remembering what a huge inspiration LIFNB has been for me." - Mari Pfingston-Bigelow
Long Island Food Not Bombs would like to give a special thanks to all of the people, companies, organizations and friends who helped make the Bonanza as amazing as it was. We’d also like to say that there were literally thousands of people who helped make this happened and we wish we could add you all here!
Karen Sackett & Rick Heath
Newsday Article on the Hempstead Food Share Bonanza
Long Island Press Article on the Huntington Thanksgiving Food Share
Supervegan Article on the Hempstead Thanksgiving Bonanza
Long Island Report Article on the Thanksgiving Bonanza
Huntington Patch Article on the Thanksgiving Bonanza
Long Island Wins Article on LIFNB
Sparrow Media Article on the Thanksgiving Bonanza
PETA mentions Hempstead Food Share Bonanza
Vegan Victuals Article on Thanksgiving Bonanza
Announcement for the 2010 Thanksgiving Bonanza
Announcement/Teaser Video for the 2010 Hempstead Food Share Bonanza
Announcement for “Pies Not Bombs”
Hempstead Thanksgiving Food Share Bonanza Event Page
Last year’s Discussion & Thoughts
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the Bonanza as well. If you participated what did you think about it? What would you like to see next us do next, or what would you like to see for next Thanksgiving? If you didn’t participate or you’re not from our parts we’d also love to hear your thoughts, especially if you’d like to do something like this as well. Please add your thoughts as comments below or contact us here.
Posted Dec 14 2010 - 3:12pm by LongIslandFNB