What does it cost to feed an occupation?
I don’t know what it costs the Occupied Kitchen, but I know what it costs me.
It costs money: food does grow on trees, but most of the trees are far away from my NYC apartment and I pay money so that other people will pick, process, and carry it to my doorstep.
It costs time: The time it takes me to cut, slice, chop, dice, simmer, bake and fry. Time I need to be in the house keeping an eye on the oven instead of outside protesting or working in my garden or running errands.
It costs energy: Not just my personal energy—every meal I prepare is energy I could have used to write a blog post or my next novel—but fuel. Gas in my stove, gas in the trucks that bring me the raw ingredients, the train’s diesel it takes to haul my ass and my big-ass backpack to where I think the hungry people might be today.
But most of all, it costs trust: that those who take the food I spent hours cooking and preparing and carrying to a space are actually hungry and will actually eat it and not waste it or complain it needs butter or more green vegetables or yell at me for taking it to the wrong place.
(Those things have happened to me, and it made me not want to feed the whole occupation. But I got over the feeling, because those injustices were less than my love for the whole. But. They were still real and still cruel and thoughtless and ungrateful.)
Trust that the eaters won’t try and work out what it cost me to prepare, and decide that I didn’t spend enough money on them.
Now that’s me, and I understand that if people have issues with the Occupied Kitchen and how it spends its money, that is a different set of issues.
And yet, it’s not.
The first Occupy Wall Street fundraising was for food. I know, because I donated to the WePay account. I donated money for peanut butter and bread, because that’s where the page said it would go to. I was a little surprised when the GA voted to open the fund to the whole occupation, because that’s not what I donated for.
But, I trusted the GA to use those funds for good.
So please, fellow Occupiers, when you start complaining about what the Kitchen does or doesn’t do, spends or doesn’t spend, feeds or doesn’t feed… please remember that you may not know what it cost to put that food in your mouth.
Please trust that we are doing the best we can with what we have.
That’s the thing about volunteers; you can’t actually fire them. But you can abuse volunteers and cast aspersions until they burn themselves up and burn out and disappear.
Sure, you could start paying people to cook and serve. But why stop there? Pay people to protest, to go to General Assemblies, to face arrest.
But then you still won’t know what it costs to feed an occupation, because you will have lost the occupation.
All you’ll have is a job.