WASHINGTON – The Washington chapter of Food Not Bombs, a volunteer group that gives out free vegan meals to combat poverty and hunger, distributed meals on Saturday, undeterred by persistent rain.

D.C. is one of over 1,000 cities in 65 countries served by Food Not Bombs, according to its website. The first of the autonomous, non-hierarchical chapters was founded by anti-nuclear activists in 1980 in Cambridge, Mass.

Will Reid, a leading member of the D.C. branch, said he often ate from Food Not Bombs in Houston, Texas when it provided food for the Occupy movement, an international movement in the early 2010s that advocated for socio-economic justice. 

Reid started volunteering for Food Not Bombs in 2014 when he moved to Washington. He now devotes around nine hours to the group each week, and he “can’t stop thinking about it.”

“The vast majority of friendships that I have in D.C. I can somehow trace back to Food Not Bombs,” Reid said.

The group dishes out food donated by local businesses that otherwise would have been thrown away.

In addition to reducing food waste, another of the group’s guiding tenets is nonviolence. The D.C. chapter has provided food for multiple Gaza ceasefire protests.

The group distributes only vegan options to avoid food safety issues, serve individuals who do not eat animal products, oppose violence in the animal industry and provide nutritious options.

It serves around 25 to 75 people each week in the winter, and around 75 to 150 people in the summer, Reid estimated.

Food Not Bombs serves an estimated 25 to 75 people each week in the winter. (Lindsey Byman/MNS)

Volunteers Will Reid (right) and Jason (left) share an umbrella in the rain. They met in 2014 when they got involved with Food Not Bombs. (Lindsey Byman/MNS)

Vegan donuts from Donut Run in Tacoma are a staple handout for Food Not Bombs. Reid said eating these donuts each week is a perk of volunteering. (Lindsey Byman/MNS)

A volunteer hands someone a hot drink. Volunteers are instructed to wear masks and gloves when they serve food. (Lindsey Byman/MNS)

A volunteer scoops spaghetti into a plastic container. This week’s menu also included chili, fresh fruits and vegetables and brownies. (Lindsey Byman/MNS)

Stacked containers of food sit on a plastic folding table. Food Not Bombs aims to reduce food waste by giving out items that would otherwise have been thrown away. (Lindsey Byman/MNS)

A volunteer hands someone a hot beverage over the table. Many volunteers knew the people they served by name. (Lindsey Byman/MNS)