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Food Insecurity at Zuccotti Park

March 20, 2012

Tigga and other members of the Occupy Wall Street Kitchen Group prepare sandwiches just outside the fence of Zuccotti Park on November 21, 2011.

November 22, 2011

When Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, ordered the removal of Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park on November 15th, he made life more difficult for the occupiers in a political as well as humanitarian sense. This is, at least, what members of Wall Street maintain.

The pre-raid park boasted of a kitchen, hospital, library and bank. The proximity of these tents allowed Zuccotti to serve as a central hub of communications. Volunteers, attached to their respective tents, could coordinate logistics to assist those who needed it. The clinic treated injuries, pepper spray victims and hypothermia cases. The kitchen, for example, prepared and distributed warm meals. Looking at Occupy since their removal, it is evident things are very different.

There are days when some people at the park do not have enough food to eat – or any at all.  This is hardly surprising considering the large number of homeless and poor in the movement. With the reopening of the park, private security now requires all food be prepared off-site, which means it must be transported and then served to people outside the park. Needless to say, this makes feeding the occupiers considerably more difficult.

“We got peanut butter and jelly,” said Tigga as he offered food to hungry occupiers waiting inside the park on the other side of the fence. On November 22nd, he was one of several kitchen members who attempted to make sandwiches in the park, and was refused entry by police. “They can bring it over [the fence], but not the crate,” said a police officer nearby. She said food could be passed over the metal fences if it was prepared outside.

The group did not offer any resistance to police as they made sandwiches, but some members expressed their discontent. “I don’t see why we shouldn’t bring food into the park. I mean, all we gonna do is eat it,” said Donald, a kitchen member who helped distribute bagels and bread.

After the two officers left, park security approached the occupiers saying they could not pass food over the fence. “These guys are not worried about politics. These guys are bringing food to hungry people,” said Jason, who added that the park’s rules were arbitrary and designed to get members to leave the park. “They want us to go hungry. They want us to be cold. They want us to go away,” said Jason.

Staff Reporter

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