In acts of defiance, members of FOOD not BOMBS led marches and held food giveaways around the city including Alvord Lake, starting in the late 1980’s.  The message was to provide the poor and homeless people with resources instead of marching orders.  People from the movement were regularly arrested and cited for these giveaways since, while it required a permit to sell food in Golden Gate Park, it was always illegal to give it away for free.

The Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council (HANC) was a backer of this movement.  They often provided logistical support to the food giveaways though many opponents chided their involvement.  Many in the HANC community also claim that local neighborhood group CVIA (Cole Valley Improvement Association) was actually formed in order to combat the progressive position HANC took on the FOOD not BOMBS movement.  CVIA still works tirelessly to oppose HANC initiatives at every turn.  The main difference is that HANC promotes an inclusive society which finds a way to help everyone in the community while CVIA would rather create an exclusive community, finding ways to eliminate people who are visibly needy or unsavory from the neighborhood.  This critical difference in philosophy has not lost steam in our time, rather it has been magnified and polarized this area, turning neighbor against neighbor in the war on poverty.

Greg Gaar, our native plant guru and former Haight Street fixture, used to spend his days photographing the people, culture and politics in the Haight in black and white film.  His unofficial archive captures many pivotal moments from the neighborhood and brings a close-up perspective to a movement for the poor and hungry most people have never seen.  A selection of his photos from a FOOD not BOMBS protest on September 5, 1988 is included below.   Above, find the adorable animation from the FOOD not BOMBS website illustrating their ideas.  For more information check out

Stay tuned for more retro themed stories this week on our blog.  We will be looking at the Mc Donald’s drive-thru debacle, the Cala/Whole Foods development, and the groundbreaking environmental work of John Barry and May Pon.  If you have a unique story about this neighborhood, please email, maybe we will feature you on our blog!