Keith McHenry

Keith McHenry is the co-founder of Food Not Bombs. He also co-founded Homes Not Jails and contributed to the founding of the Independent Media Center.

Early life

McHenry was born in Frankfurt, West Germany in 1957 while his father was stationed in the army. The family then moved to Logan, Utah, and finally to a farm on Cape Cod, MA. Keith's paternal great, great, great grandfather was United States statesman and delegate to the Continental Congress, James McHenry. In 1974, McHenry studied painting at Boston University, where he took classes from Howard Zinn.


While at Boston University, McHenry became active with Clamshell Alliance making several trips to Seabrook, New Hampshire to protest nuclear power. He began to organize actions in cities on the east coast of the United States against nuclear arms and war, while promoting alternative energy and organic gardening.

In 1980, he and others started the first Food Not Bombs chapter in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The group provided entertainment and vegetarian meals in Harvard Square and the Boston Commons after making deliveries of uncooked food to most of the housing projects and shelters in the area.

In 1988, McHenry moved to San Francisco where he started a second Food Not Bombs group. He was one of nine volunteers arrested for sharing food and literature at Golden Gate Park on August 15, 1988.[1] In the following years, Keith was arrested over 100 times for serving free food in city parks and spent over 500 nights in jail. He faced 25 years to life in prison under the California Three Strikes Law but in 1995, Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Commission brought about his release.[2]

He has started Food Not Bombs groups around the world. In 2005, he helped coordinate food relief as well as shipments of clothing and other supplies to the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

In 2012, he founded the Food Not Bombs Free Skool, which teaches a summer course covering social issues, community organizing, nonviolent social change, cultural events, and sustainable agriculture.


  • 1999 Local Hero Award, San Francisco Bay Guardian
  • Resister of the Year, 1995
  • 2012 Noam Chomsky Award, Justice Studies Association


  • Food Not Bombs: How to Feed the Hungry and Build Community.
  • HUNGRY FOR PEACE How you can help end poverty and war with Food Not Bombs


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