5 Bites of Occupy Wall Street

A look at the eats of political activism

The Occupy Wall Street protest has infiltrated Zuccotti Park in New York's Financial District since September 17th. Some of the protesters have been there for eight weeks, and they've needed to eat. And, for protesters, they’ve sure been eating well.

The Occupy movement has spread to hundreds of cities across the world, from marches to weeklong demonstrations with the same mission as the original. From the thousands marching in New York to the one-man movement in Cooper Landing, Alaska, activists in 43 states across America and 900 cities across the world are putting their lives on hold to speak out against the banking industry. There have been hundreds of arrests and injuries in the process, and Facebook and Twitter have been a dominant force in the Occupy movement, but at the end of the day, we all have the same basic needs, like the need for food.

Plenty of Occupy protests across the country have been getting gourmet eats donated to them by local organizations and restaurants that sympathize with the cause. Local charities in Portland have been bringing food to protesters, street carts have set up for protesters in Los Angeles and San Diego, food trucks have been set up near the St. Louis protests, and even some of Gainesville's restaurants have sent containers of food. 

New York, N.Y.: The Occupy movement began in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park on September 17th. From the Occupy Wall Street web site, you can order food from Toloache Taqueria or Liberatos Pizza to be delivered for the protesters. There is food (and kombucha) being donated to the site, and plenty of food being served from the communal kitchen.

As a result of the protests, people who work in the area are no longer eating lunch in Zuccotti because of the heavy police and media presence. Because of this, the Street Vendor Project was born, in which donations are made to vendors losing business around the park. Through it all, Occupy-ers will, at the very least, always have ice cream.

Columbus, Ohio: A common thread through all the Occupy eats is donation. Civilians are making food, demonstrators are bringing food, and restaurants are donating. In Columbus, they have a web site set up for financial donations, which has already passed $1,000, and with the weather getting colder, blankets and tents are top priority. They also use their Facebook page to post needs for each day — usually ice, drinks, hot food, and propane. Downtown coffee shop Cafe Brioso has given protesters hot coffee, and pizza has been donated by Gumby's, a pizzeria near Ohio State's campus.

Oakland, Calif.: Occupy Oakland has been one of the strongest (and loudest) movements after the original in New York. It began a little more than three weeks after the Zuccotti Park protest got off the ground. The larger of Oakland’s two camps has about 100 tents pitched at Oscar Grant Plaza in front of City Hall. Both Oscar Grant Plaza and the smaller Snow Park camp are equipped with food tents that include kitchens, serving stations, and a dishwashing area, and both have hosted "foodfests" featuring burgers brought in by local unions. Rapper Lupe Fiasco also dropped by with food and supplies. 

Chicago, Ill.: Chicago's Occupy movement is somewhat different from the rest because they don’t have a permanent camp, though the protesters typically populate the corners of Jackson and LaSalle in front of the Federal Reserve Bank in the financial district. Grace Episcopal Church, also known as Grace Place, only a few blocks from Occupy Chi's (quasi) home base, has opened their kitchen for occupiers.  They also offer protesters a place to rest and storage space for the incredible amount of food donations they've received.

Washington, D.C.: The Occupiers of D.C. can be found at McPherson Square, where a drinking fountain has become a public well. Similar to Oakland's setup, Occupy D.C. also has its own food tent. Because of generous donations, they are able to cook hot meals everyday, such as spaghetti with cheese and potatoes garnished with egg salad. Basant Khalsa, among other volunteers, serves between 100 and 200 protesters three hot meals per day. Reportedly, the most delicious donations have been home-cooked meals from supporters who can't (or decided not to) set up camp.