Occupy Wall Street Pests Should Stop Leeching Off Protesters for Food

food occupy wall streetIt's hard being an Occupier. Living in a tent in the park, protesting in the cold and rain, enduring drum circles, fielding demands for demands. At least the Occupy Wall Street crowd is eating well. Donations of fresh food and pizza deliveries are pouring in. Protesters are eating like they're at their mama's, and some are even putting on a few extra pounds thanks to the vegan casseroles and pastrami sandwiches.

But a shadow lurks over the OWS canteen. Non-protesting freeloaders are starting to take advantage of the smorgasbord. Word has it that a knife was pulled in a recent dispute, and women have been groped. There's only one reasonable response to this: In the words of a well-known Seinfeld character, "No soup for you!" In response to the problem, kitchen volunteers shut down the buffet until the issue was resolved -- and I don't blame them at all.


As a home cook, I am in (totally passive, lazy) solidarity with this stand. Occupy the Occupy Wall Street Kitchen! No more beet and sheeps' milk salad until they have safer working conditions!

Apparently word of the good grub at Zuccotti Park has traveled far and wide and local vagrants are showing up and taking advantage. This puts the cooks in an awkward position. They've volunteered to help a cause they believe in -- a very specific cause. They did not sign up to work overtime feeding anyone and everyone who happens to be near Wall Street. And in order to protect themselves, they are now insisting they be able to do something that makes us all feel a little squeamish: refuse food to the homeless

Wait for the conservative pundits to start crying, "Hypocrisy!"

But hold on there. In every activist/volunteer situation, burnout is a risk. Every volunteer starts out with ideals and self-sacrifice, but even with that ethos, you need to stick to your boundaries and focus your energy to make sure you're as effective as possible. So if that means serving food only to people who are actively contributing to OWS, I think that's fair. 

And if people are physically threatening you, it doesn't matter if they're homeless or homeowners -- it needs to stop! If OWS can make Zuccotti Park safe for families with young children, they can make it safe for cooks, too. So I'm glad the kitchen volunteers stood up for themselves. 

Are OWS kitchen volunteers right to refuse serving homeless people at Zuccotti Park?


Image via David Shankbone/Flickr

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