The activists of the Food Not Bombs movement in the United States initiated a campaign starting from April1, 2012. They are protesting against state legislation which made it impossible for people in need, especially for the homeless to receive food donations on the streets. They claim that food is a right and not a privilege and the Hungarian City is For All shares this opinion. It means that everyone has the right to receive proper and decent food as well as to give it away for those who need it.
A growing number of local municipalities prohibit public food donations in the United States. In Philadelphia the mayor claims that food donations involve health and safety risks and can easily harm the dignity of homeless people, so he prohibited all public food giveaways. During the summer of 2011 several activists of the Food Not Bombs movement in Orlando, Florida were arrested for cooking and giving vegetarian dishes for homeless people in spite of the local prohibition. In Houston a local Christian community had to give up their food donations although they used to provide food for dozens of people every day. In Dallas sharing food is not prohibited, but the legislation became so strict that it is basically impossible to organise public food giveaways (organisers should provide toilets and lavatories, and only allowed to operate with skilled staff etc.). In New York it is forbidden to donate food for homeless shelters that are run by the government, because it is impossible to calculate the nutritional values of the donated food. Although more and more cities aggravate the legislation of public food donations, Las Vegas is the first city in the US to specifically prohibit sharing food with the needy.
Even though we do not (yet) know about any municipalities in Hungary that has made food giveaway illegal, it is becoming more and more difficult to give food to the needy. When the capital’s municipality announced that the Food for Life program, which was run for over ten years by the Hungarian Society for Krishna Consciousness on Blaha Lujza square and served food for a few hundred people several times a week, has to move, the decision was met with great indignation. Although the new place (Teleki square) was accepted by all parties involved, it is a lot more difficult to reach (especially for the elderly and frail). In addition, the chances that people who need such services may hear about it are a lot lower. The forced relocation together with the recent measures against the homeless show clearly the agenda of the Budapest local government: to remove services for the homeless from the city and as a consequence to remove the homeless themselves.
Moreover, the number of shelters where any kind of cold or hot food is available for homeless people is decreasing due to cost cuts in governmental social spending. It also caused the fall of the amount of food. It is also much harder for homeless people to get food on the weekends and on holidays. The „long weekends” are also a difficult case to handle as there are fewer possibilities to get food on these days than on an average weekday (in 2012 there are 8 long weekends coming).
To express our support for the homeless, hungry and their helpers in the United States, The City is for All and Food Not Bombs Budapest shared vegetarian food with dozens of homeless people on Boráros Square in Budapest on April 1, 2012.