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Forum Post: Logistics: Food

Posted 12 years ago on July 29, 2011, 8:21 p.m. EST by chris (0)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

Hello everyone!

My name is Chris and I am a member of the Food Committee who, for the past month, has been feverishly trying to figure out how to feed 20,000 people. I am also a member of NYC's Food Not Bombs.

Here's the battleplan we've worked out so far:

At first we were going to make bulk rice and beans and other prepared foods. However, this presents unique logistical difficulties that we're not confident can be overcome within the short time that we have: namely getting kitchen space to do all this in. So, the solution hit upon after the first Food Committee meeting was to serve sandwiches instead. They're easy to make, easy to transport and produce little to no trash, versus a more complicated dish that would require paper plates and plastic utensils. Namely, we were thinking peanut butter sandwiches -- they're cheap, filling and can be made directly on site. This is IN ADDITION to the donations we're hoping will come when Sept. 17 comes around. We just want to have a backup food supply, as donations can be fickle things. Also, we need an alternative for people with nut allergies. Some people suggested hummus, but that is quite perishable and we don't want people to get food poisoning.

I did some calculations, though, and while peanut butter sandwiches would no doubt be cheaper than other options, having enough for the people we want to have on Sept. 17 is still going to need money. I was looking, very specifically, for the large, 45 pounds tubs. It looks like they range in price between $108 and $128. According to the Internet, 45 pounds is 1380 tablespoons. A typical peanut butter sandwich has 2 tablespoons, meaning that each drum will yield 690 sandwiches. While, on an ideal level, we'd have about 20 such drums, we're not sure if we'd be able to get the funds together for that and, furthermore, there's the chance we may not even NEED that much, if other donations come through. I imagine we could probably get by on half of that, meaning we'd need about $1000. Despite some outreach efforts, the total amount of money raised by the Food Committee so far equals $0. So, we need money. I am setting up a PayPal account to accept donations (probably right after this post) but would LOVE to get some larger donations from organizations.

At the same time, we'd also need bread. I am currently talking to freegan groups in NYC to try and get that, since bread is the most common thing you run into while dumpstering, though I have been told that the organized groups do not get that many people. So, I am trying to organize a group of about five or six experienced dumpster divers (I am not experienced and would need guidance) to go the night before and get as much bread as they can, as well as whatever else can be salvaged. But man does not live on sandwiches alone! As mentioned before, we want to ALSO have food donated similar to what went down in Wisconsin where people were sending pizzas and other delivery from local restaurants over to the event. While we have been working to try and get advance commitment from people and organizations to order food that day, much like the monetary donations, food donations have not been forthcoming. Further, we're going to look into asking grocery stores for donations of fruit and other ready-to-eat foods. If anyone has any contacts who can donate a few boxes of, say, apples and bananas, that would be great.

Finally, since we expect to have a store of supplies already built up by the time the 17th comes, we're going to need a place to store all of this. Residences, perhaps, or a more dedicated storage facility. We won't need a warehouse in terms of capacity, but I'd prefer not to have to store everything in my apartment due to my distance from Wall Street and, also, my apartment is about the size of a phone booth (remember those?).

Any assistance of any of these fronts would be much appreciated.



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[-] 2 points by odelldylan (4) from Charleston, SC 12 years ago


I am planning a trip to NYC for a week to help feed the protestors suffering through the cold weather. I am asking everyone in the Charleston chapter to help sponsor this effort. We need all the donation you can give us!

I also need to find out who to get in contact with when we make it up there.

[-] 2 points by anonymous () 12 years ago

Hello, I live close to wall street and would certainly help store peanut butter / other stuff--also, I'm an "experienced" dumpster diver and would certainly be down to go the night before, hitting up whole foods/trader joe's things like that. Please let me know if you need my assistance: sriester@brandeis.edu thanks!

[-] 0 points by anonymous () 12 years ago

So you post anonymously but give away your email. Don't get it.

[-] 2 points by anonymous () 12 years ago

You guys need to check out the logistical side of Rainbow Gatherings if you want a real shot at feeding all these people. The Family manages to feed 10,000+ people for weeks on end. ALL on donation and cooperation. In the middle of the woods no less. Say what you want about Rainbow, because I know it carries a lot of negative connotations, but the bottom line is they can FEED. If you can get even a few Rainbow kitchens on board you'd be gaining a massive advantage.



[-] 0 points by anonymous () 12 years ago

If EVERYBODY BRING[s] A CUP, BOWL, AND SPOON, you can serve anything without producing waste! (Including rice, which is the cheapest - if bought in sacks -, easiest and most delicious food in the world)

[-] 2 points by cia_kid (5) from Ilford, England 12 years ago

Have you considered setting up an agreement with bulk traders like Costco (http://www.costco.com/)?

If you pool some resources, you could as least cover a weeks worth. Mainly canned foods.

Costco can have some advertising, or they may want to be a exclusive supplier, but remain anonymous.

Fast food outlets could setup nearby with rock bottom prices but they know that 20,000 people with be constantly eating from their shops so they will make a tidy profit and we'll be well fed.

Hot dog vendors, etc.

Just a thought.


[-] 1 points by John (10) from Grass Valley, California 12 years ago

i actually totally like the idea of exclusively buying from street vendors except that i am ignorant to whether or not they are independent businesses or part of a bigger setup... and it would take forever for me to get a hot dog i'm not british i don't queue so well...

[-] 1 points by TH3W01F (180) from Ottawa, ON 12 years ago

Adopt the tactics of the military. MRE's.


Just talk to your friendly local Army/Navy surplus store. The military figured out how to nourish their troops while "occupying" territory. If protesters are issued MRE's or equivalents, you reduce the means by which the LEO's (Law Enforcement Officers) can get you. The "kitchen" that OWS uses is not designed for a long siege.

[-] 1 points by lisa (425) 12 years ago

You need at least a couple of vending carts to cook some hot meals, or gas grills. You need ice and coolers. I suggest getting some donated things from camping stores, they'll have what you need to cook and you have to cook. Soup with meat, potatoes, vegetables. In Portland, Oregon, these trailers that they call 'food carts' sprung up.


They are movable if need be. You need something like this since you are in it for the long haul. NYC has lots of vendors, can you get some of them to stop by once or twice a day to help cook some hot meals? People cannot live on peanut butter for months at a time. What about the vendors that provide school lunches? You could negotiate a contract for some hot meals probably at a discounted price. If you could get designated as a non profit group companies can do business with you. Catering halls probably have left overs from weddings and events. You got to think about who gets food in large amounts, where do they get it, and pursue that, cause they aren't paying retail. You got the Bronx Terminal Market where all kinds of good fresh food comes in, you got the Green Farmer's markets, if you can get fresh food, cheaply, get some carts to cook in... Ask delis if they could donate a couple of trays of food, even the bagel places, they throw out day old bagels, they are still good.

The biggest problem you have is weather and having no walls or shelter. You will need tarpolians. (camping and outdoor stores or Lowe's or Home Depot). (you could also consider squatting in empty bldgs for shelter..., you can get Brooklyn Union Gas to turn on the lights and heat and have places to stay).

[-] 1 points by USArevolution12 (5) 12 years ago

I know this is late, but since spring is here...what about meals on wheels? You could also try local food pantries to get the necessary food.

[-] 1 points by WrenBird (1) from Pittsburgh, PA 12 years ago

Hi there! I am helping to organize the Food Committe for Occupy Pittsburgh. I would appreciate any advice you folks have for us as we prepare our occupation!

[-] 1 points by Zack (8) 12 years ago

For all those who want to support this cause by sending food and non perishable supplies to OccupyWallStreet, I would like to share a channel used by many to send their donations. Use: Delivery.com and under the grocery tab look for Village Farm and Grocery. Buy the merchandize and use the delivery address as: OccupyWallStreet 1 Liberty Plaza Ground New York, Ny 10006 Tiffany Place 212-475-7521 Food and essential are delivered by the Deli without any delivery fee and it has a massive list of options. Just shared my 2 cents.

[-] 1 points by Zack (8) 12 years ago

For all those who want to support this cause by sending food and non perishable supplies to OccupyWallStreet, I would like to share a channel used by many to send their donations. Use: Delivery.com and under the grocery tab look for Village Farm and Grocery. Buy the merchandize and use the delivery address as: OccupyWallStreet 1 Liberty Plaza Ground New York, Ny 10006 Tiffany Place 212-475-7521 Food and essential are delivered by the Deli without any delivery fee and it has a massive list of options. Just shared my 2 cents.

[-] 1 points by allibyx (2) 12 years ago

That's either the most user unfriendly site I've ever had the misfortune to visit or there's something wrong with your instructions. There is no "grocery tab", only a search address bar that won't resolve the address you provided.

[-] 1 points by allibyx (2) 12 years ago

Ok, figured it out. You first have to open an account. Then you punch in the recipient address. Then you have the option to find the grocery place.

[-] 1 points by gawdoftruth (3698) from Santa Barbara, CA 12 years ago

again, your real best bet in this is to find local homeless people and emulate their survival tactics. While mass feedings may sound like a smart plan wait until the pigs attack you at lunch time or confiscate the food.

[-] 1 points by anonymous () 12 years ago

What about those of us who are gluten free? What about peanut allergies? You are excluding a lot of people by serving peanutbutter sandwiches.


[-] 1 points by theapostasy45 (1) 12 years ago

We could also try contacting as many local food trucks as possible. There's a ton of different kinds that run all over the city. It might not be the best source for mass amounts of food, but in terms of mobility it could help. Also just a thought, might any of restaurants or fast food places not provide food because of not wanting to be associated with the event?

[-] 1 points by SDSDallas (5) from Dallas, TX 12 years ago

Has FNB been contacted directly regarding providing food? Maybe they could also help organize with the local 7-11's and other food outlets?

[-] 1 points by mary (5) 12 years ago

Rad. I'm not sure if FNB has yet been contacted, but I know it was discussed in the food WG that developed out of Tuesday's General Assembly. Do you have any contacts with FNB in the NYC area? or someone from FNB who is planning on attending 9.17?

[-] 1 points by BankWhistleblower (2) 12 years ago

Note that there are several McD's and a Burger King close by.

[-] 1 points by Dragonfire1024 (16) from Kittery, ME 12 years ago

Restaurants always have food left over at the end of the work day that get 'written off' as waste and thrown away. Check with 7-Elevens, Bakeries, etc. I work at a 7-Eleven. Anything not sold by midnight of the sell-by date is written off and tossed in trash. We can have these places save us sandwiches and other foods.

[-] 0 points by agnosticnixie (17) from Laval, QC 12 years ago

We're planning an occupation, I doubt any of those stores will be open long, let alone ready to feed tens of thousands of people.

[-] 1 points by Dragonfire1024 (16) from Kittery, ME 12 years ago

It's just a suggestion. You would be surprised how much food they waste at the end of the day. May not be an army of food, but food is food.

[-] 0 points by anonymous () 12 years ago

This is how I heard what you said: "Screw the banks! Screw the government! Thank God for the big global companies though!" The suggestion of local food vendors is much better, because then you're actually helping people rather than making the rich richer.

[-] 1 points by Dragonfire1024 (16) from Kittery, ME 12 years ago

Also food should, whenever possible be provided free of charge. Selling food would require two things in NYC: 1) a vendor's permit 2) Health inspection. We don't want this to turn into something where people come to make a profit.

[-] 1 points by radleft (15) 12 years ago

What organizations or groups in NYC can take on the task of storing supplies prior to Sept 17. We will have a large cadre of committed occupiers that will need to be fed. Staging this food would be something that a local group needs to take on. Opinions, NYC activists?

[-] 1 points by mary (5) 12 years ago

a food working group has formed out of Tuesday's General Assembly. Contact me directly and I can put you in touch with the folks, as they need help.

[-] 1 points by Dragonfire1024 (16) from Kittery, ME 12 years ago

What about contacting local food pantries? They may have some space to store supplies in and also may be able to help out with supplying food. If this gets serious, I will bet that many restaurants and such just might want to provide their services for free.

[-] 0 points by anonymous () 12 years ago

I think there should be stuff for sale, maybe t-shirts buttons or signs that can help support the cause. An area should be made for people who are just visiting and stopping by where they can find out what they can do to help and an area for donation drop off. Making your needs more visible and publicized will be helpful. AND i strongly encourage you to tell people to bring more than a TENT. Some people have never been camping and don't know what to bring. Set up the website like a festival website, with menus like: What to bring, Events, Volunteering, Donations, etc. With each option easily defined and organized. I agree that taking tips from the Rainbow Gathering and Burning Man would be helpful.

Also get the police, fire, EMT, teachers, students, nurses and other working class groups on your side

[-] 0 points by anonymous () 12 years ago

has anyone considered asking Organic Valley for food donations? I know they donated somewhere around $10,000 worth of food for the last rainbow gathering.

the CEO, George Siemon, would be sympathetic to this cause.


[-] 0 points by anonymous () 12 years ago

As difficult as it may be, people should bring their own stuff. Cash donations will be hard to get from participants - transportation is just about all I can afford, but I can bring enough protein bars to last a few days. What about water and portajohns, though?


[-] 0 points by anonymous () 12 years ago

Here is an idea: EVERYONE come self sufficient, and bring something to share.

[-] 0 points by anonymous () 12 years ago

How are we supposed to protest for several weeks if we are more loaded down with food than the NYPD is with riot gear? No. We need someone to organize and distribute food for this to work right.

[-] -1 points by anonymous () 12 years ago

Have you tried to contact food not bombs, they are usually experts at dump diving and should know other places where you can get more donations from...