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Today, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, people living below the poverty line (less than $9,069 annual income for a family of three) are going hungry at least once a month, and over 30 million people are going hungry on a regular basis. Astonishingly, less than 15% of the hungry are homeless. Moreover, the explosion of hunger has outstripped the ability of existing hunger relief programs, both governmental and private, to satisfy this crucial need. 

Many do not realize that the demographics of "The Hungry" have changed dramatically. Over the last decade, they have become: 

Younger: 12.9 million (40%) are children, the true victims of this tragedy. 

Poorer: 12.9 million (40%) live below the poverty line. This gap is widening as the real income of the bottom four-fifths of our population continues to decrease. 

More likely to be employed: 60% of poor families include workers, and the number of working hungry rose 50% from 1978 to 1986. 

More likely to be female: 50% of poor families are headed by women. 

Less likely to overcome poverty. 

Clearly, the majority of people going hungry today are not the stereotyped street person as the media would have you believe. Hungry people are children and single parents (mostly women), the working poor, the unemployed, the elderly, the chronically ill, and those on a fixed income (such as veterans and people with physical and mental

challenges/differences/disabilities) . All of these people find themselves in the clutches of oppressive poverty even while trying to improve their condition. 

In addition to the collection and distribution of surplus food to help solve this problem, Food Not Bombs encourages vegetarianism, If more people were vegetarian and demanded organically grown, locally produced foods, this would encourage organic farming practices and support smaller farms. This in turn would make it easier to decentralize the means of food production and to create democratic control over the quality of food produced and the stewardship of the land. More people can be fed from one acre of land on a vegetarian diet rather than a meat-based one. Our society's current meat-based diet allows for huge "agribusinesses," and dependency on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, resulting in declining nutritional value of the food produced and also destruction of the environment. All mass-produced meats in this country are full of chemicals, drugs, enhancers, and preservatives, and all milk is contaminated with radioactive fallout. Vegetarianism would be better for the environment, consume less resources, and be healthier for us. 

While we encourage awareness of vegetarianism for political and economic reasons, this policy also has several more immediate benefits. The potential for problems of food spoilage are greatly reduced when dealing strictly with vegetables, and members of the group tend to eat a more healthy diet as they learn more about vegetarianism. Also, teaching people about the health benefits of a vegetarian diet actually creates a healthy, caring attitude toward ourselves, others, and the planet as a whole. Therefore, all of the food we prepare is strictly from vegetable sources, that is, no meat, dairy, or eggs. People know and trust this standard for Food Not Bombs food whenever they come to our table. 

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