Katie Sims / Sun Staff Photographer

People enjoy Chili Fest on the Ithaca Commons a few blocks away from where Food Not Bombs gave out free vegetarian chili.

February 12, 2017

Ithaca Group ‘Food Not Bombs’ Organizes Anti-Capitalist Chili Fest, Rivals Cook-Off

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While hundreds of Ithacans attended the Annual Ithaca Chili Cook-Off on the Commons Saturday, another group Food Not Bombs, served its own chili at DeWitt Park — free of charge.

The food stand at the park was flanked by large signs reading messages such as “America Was Never Great” and “No Trump, No KKK, No USA.”

Among the coffee, vegetarian chili and banana bread were anarchist and anti-fascist pamphlets promoting the overall message of Food Not Bombs.

“Food Not Bombs is an international non-hierarchical organization,” said Eve Anderson ’19 of the Ithaca chapter. “We’re centered on food justice, community organizing and anti-capitalist action in Ithaca.”

The organization gives out free food every Saturday and served chili this Saturday to mirror the theme of the nearby cook-off. However, the group provided only vegetarian food, believing it aligned with their values.

“This week we themed our meal after chili in order to be in the spirit of a chili festival, but ours is an anti-capitalist action,“ Anderson said. “So we don’t expect anyone to pay.”

The stand was surrounded by people helping themselves to the food and plenty of conversation.

“We just want to provide a safe space where people can eat for free,” Anderson said.

The food was donated by the Friendship Donation Network, which also provides for soup kitchens and food pantries around town. This made it possible for the group to serve their soup for free, although patrons were asked to bring a vegan dish to share.

The chili fest was followed by an open forum where members could share “ideas for expanding a network of resource sharing,” according the event’s Facebook page.

“We want to build our community and cultivate a space for anti-fascist organizing,” Anderson said. “Chili is a great place to start.”