by Mitchell Brown, Reporter
Three young men, Collin Mills, Carson Mills and Eric Denney, stood out among the densely packed crowd at August’s First Fridays Art Walk in downtown Warrensburg, Mo.
They were standing in front of their booth – among three, many visible tattoos, dreadlocks and a baseball cap with a Dead Kennedys logo placed front and center were on display – but it wasn’t appearance that caused them to stand out.
They were not at the event pedaling artistic wares or making music in the street — the three came to the function as activists.
“We’re here to feed people,” Denney said.
“We’re Warrensburg Food Not Bombs,” Collin Mills said. “Food Not Bombs is an autonomous organization, and there’s chapters all over the world that are each autonomous, and they work within their cities and their own communities to pass out free vegan and vegetarian food.”
The first Food Not Bombs chapter was created by anti-nuclear war activists in 1980 in Cambridge, Mass.
“We started participating in Kansas City Food Not Bombs, and we figured why can’t we do it here,” Carson Mills said.
The Warrensburg Food Not Bombs is new to the area. The most recent First Fridays Artwalk marks their second public feeding.
Both Carson and Collin talked about surprised reactions from passersby.
“It’s actually funny how people keep wanting to pull out their wallets and try to pay us,” Carson Mills said. He would then have to explain that the food they are providing is free.
Many Warrensburg residents are unfamiliar with Food Not Bombs, which could possibly explain such a response. Collin Mills estimates the Warrensburg chapter to have been in existence for a little over a month. Food Not Bombs is unique in the sense that the majority of the outreach programs that provide food free of charge in the area are faith-based organizations, with official church ties.
Food Not Bombs is a totally secular organization, yet the members explained how they are willing to work with the faith based free food suppliers in Warrensburg.
“We’ve been in touch with Pastor Moody at Shiloh Baptist and Pastor Joel and Bethlehem Lutheran,” Collin Mills said.
Food Not Bombs also differs from the traditional food banks in the area in that the food they serve is vegetarian and vegan. Collin said they haven’t received any complaints or encountered vocal opposition over their serving of vegetarian food.
Although the Warrensburg Food Not Bombs is in its nascent development stage, Carson Mills expressed a vision for expanding their activities.
“Ideally, this is just a stepping stone, the First Fridays,” he said. “ We plan on continuing this, but ideally, we’d like to have it so that every Sunday, once we have proper donations, and once we are a little more established, we can set up and give out free vegetables, free bread, free fruit and hot meals to the homeless community and really anyone who needs hot meals here.”
Carson Mills said his motivation for being involved with Food Not Bombs comes from a desire to help people who are lacking in resources.
“We want to make a change,” Carson Mills said “But, where do you start to make a change? And really it’s at the community level.”