In Riverside, there are more than 2,800 homeless individuals as of 2020. Food Not Bombs (FNB) is a movement dedicated to providing vegan and vegetarian ready-to-eat meals to those in the community who are in need. The Food Not Bombs movement defines itself as a mutual aid group composed entirely of volunteers. They recover food that would be otherwise discarded in more than 1,000 cities and 65 countries. The movement works as a protest against war, poverty, the destruction of the environment and the police.
The name Riverside Food Not Bombs stems from the concept that the government is more willing to fund war and violence (bombs) instead of devoting those funds to feeding those in need. FNB works as a call to action to encourage the community to allocate donations to aid their community instead of lying idly by as the government fails to provide for the homeless community.
Riverside FNB is a specific chapter of the overall FNB movement. They specialize in serving the community and providing meals as well as supplies. The Riverside FNB chapter began in the summer of 2020. The movement itself has been around since the late 1970s but was revived in Riverside by current and former graduate students Manda Riggle and Christina Mansano. Both of them have experience working in activism and mutual-aid groups.
“Rolling in those circles, you realize the need for this type of work, like community support, because the government is not going to help you,” Manzano said.
Over the last six months alone, Riverside FNB has been able to hand out over 3,000 meals. FNB prides itself on being consistent. The group meets every second Saturday of the month, always at Fairmount Park in Riverside, always 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and it is always free.
For a mutual-aid volunteer group to be functional, it requires immense support from the community. The Riverside FNB chapter relies on community support more than anything. They get most of their funding from donations, whether monetary or in the form of supplies. Over the years, members of the volunteer group have also contributed from their own pockets.
The group itself is more than one dozen members strong and still growing. Riverside FNB also works in partnership with many other local organizations, including; Community(IE), CUUR, Punks in the Park, Riverside Cat911 and Riverside Mutual Aid. Groups like these depend on community support.
Sarah Mandzok, freshman pre-nursing student, emphasized the importance of mutual aid in the local community.
“Mutual-aid groups like Riverside FNB are so important for the community,” Mandzok said. “Without groups like these, our community would be lost and struggling harder than it is now.”
In the future, Riverside FNB plans to continue its normal operations but hopes to increase the scale of its operations and provide more meals and supplies.
“Training more people to kind of do what we do because being an organizer isn’t as intrinsic as people may think,” Riggle said.