Community Profile in Civic Engagement: Binghamton Food Not Bombs

Address: 149 Chapin Street, Binghamton NY
Contact: Nico Meyering
Email: nmeyeri1@binghamton.edu

What kinds of services does your organization provide to the community?
Binghamton Food Not Bombs provides a weekly community meal to anyone who would like to come share it with us.  The meal brings together a diverse crowd of people who volunteer to cook, clean, and enjoy the lunch. We provide fresh and healthy vegan and vegetarian food with gluten-free and dairy-free options also available. We rely solely on volunteers and food donations because we believe that nationwide hunger would be wiped out if the federal government spent more money on domestic programs and less on defense and the military. The Binghamton chapter of Food Not Bombs has been serving the community for over a decade. 

How does your organization currently partner with Binghamton University?
Over the years many of our short and long term volunteers have been Binghamton University students.  Through our listing with the CCE we have received dozens of inquiries from individuals and groups who would like to volunteer. We have also held General Interest Meetings on BU’s campus thanks to the Experimental Media Organization.

What are some regularly available volunteer/civic engagement opportunities for Binghamton University students at your organization?
We meet every Sunday to cook at 10:00 am; lunch is shared at 1pm, and then cleanup continues until about 3pm.  Volunteers are welcome to join for any of those activities, or could help on other days by organizing and picking up food donations.

What are some ways you would like to partner further with Binghamton University students, faculty, or staff in the future?
Many of our long-term and essential volunteers have been students - their enthusiasm has been key in keeping our program running, and we hope to see further collaboration in the future. As we look to expand our organization, new and recurring volunteers from Binghamton University will be crucial.

What might students gain from volunteering at your organization? How would this work benefit your organization and/or the community?
Students who come to volunteer with us will leave with an appreciation for creative cooking, and will likely learn new recipes and techniques from the other cooks in the kitchen.  Because Food Not Bombs does not have a formal or hierarchical leadership structure, students also learn about alternative methods of collaboration and leadership.  We stress the importance of everyone participating, learning, and growing, which is a useful skill for volunteers who lead other organizations or groups.

Why do you think it is important for students to become civically engaged?
At Binghamton Food Not Bombs, the importance of civic engagement is extremely visible. Volunteers come together to cook a wholesome vegetarian meal each week that is created out of food that would have otherwise gone to waste. Instead, the food feeds those who are hungry and without our volunteers the weekly meal would not happen. 

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