January 23, 2020
On Monday, January 21st, two months after the chapter had officially formed, FTP-Chicago initiated its first mass program: Feed the People, the people’s free grocery program. The program consists of free bags of groceries and hygiene products every week, as well as a free hot meal once a month.
FTP members went to work at 11 AM clearing the sidewalk of ice and snow at the corner of an intersection in the Albany Park neighborhood. We set up two tables on which we put a cooler of tamales, a container of chili, propaganda and literature, and assembled paper grocery bags of varying sizes, filled with rice, beans, vegetables, eggs, bread, and other groceries. Every bag of groceries had a copy of FTP’s Points of Unity inside.
By noon, when the distribution began, there was a line of about ten people who had heard of the program. Admittedly, we were caught off guard and started scrambling to get everyone’s contact information and give them their groceries. The people who had already heard of the program largely mentioned that they had read about it from posters that had been pasted across eight or so blocks of each of four major streets in the neighborhood in the weeks leading up to the distribution.
In addition to postering and handing out flyers, the groceries were collected two to three times a week for the last two months outside of grocery stores in the neighborhood. Two comrades would stand at an entrance to a grocery store and ask for food donations from a list of non-perishables. Cash donations were used to buy perishable items like eggs and breads the day of the distribution. From these donations, we were able to put together the bags of groceries we handed out and have plenty left over to aid future distributions. The masses are generous!
In total, we distributed 50 bags of groceries, 15 hygiene kits, and 70 tamales. We collected over 30 contacts and had many conversations with the people about the needs of the community.
The masses were eager to get involved. Many of the people we served signed up to volunteer for future distributions, showed interest in taking part of an organizing committee, and spoke about the necessity of building new institutions of power in the community, by and for the people. Another critical success of the program was that it met the people where they are at: outside and on the street. Notably, a handful of people had not heard about the distribution in advance, and simply happened upon us. This is a necessary advantage to the often tucked away food pantries that require participants to seek them out.
The show of support from the masses for the “Feed The People” free grocery program, in preparation as well as during the distribution itself, shows the success in the implementation of the mass-line. The people are acutely aware of the problems they face and the Feed The People program will allow revolutionaries to deepen our social investigation, build organs of political power, and organize the people for revolution.
FTP-Chicago will continue to conduct the free grocery program every Sunday at noon.