Keith McHenry – USA

Linked with C.T. Butler – USA, with THE FOOD NOT BOMBS MOVEMENT, and with Helping the Homeless – The Right To Food.

He is currently focusing his attention on building the Food Not Bombs movement, resisting domestic surveillance and political repression in the United States while working with his partner Jill Rounds on their organic garden and working on local community projects. He enjoys swimming, riding his mountain bike, hiking, camping and cross country skiing. His main passion is painting, drawing, graphic design and illustration. He has been showing his art in galleries. He lives with his partner Jill Rounds and three happy dogs in their ger (yurt) in the mountains outside Taos, New Mexico. Keith is attending Prescott College majoring in art and social justice. His is studing nonviolent social change, social movements, democracy, globalization, painting and drawing. You can see his art and learn more about Keith on the website below. He also works with Jill helping her make handmade tiles and soapdishes in Ojala Studios. Jill is also an artist and has worked with textiles, natural dyes, clay and she paints in watercolor and mixed media. Keith and Jill also help their friends pay down their mortgages in as little as half the time so they can be free to do the things they enjoy. (Full text).

Watch these videos: in Nigeria, 12 min, on Aug. 19; and on YouTube Aug. 17, 2007.
Listen to different audios with Keith on KRZAnews. (Homepage).

Keith McHenry - USA.jpg.

Keith McHenry – USA


The book: Food Not Bombs (Paperback): by Keith McHenry (Author), C. T. Butler (Author) “Taking personal responsibility and doing something about the problems of our society can be both empowering and intimidating …”.

He says in an interview:

” … we wanted to do something different than most organisations that work for peace, social justice and animal rights in so much as we are trying to reach the average person in the culture – whatever culture that is- and have them realize the connections between lifestyle, diet, militarism and how everything is linked. Of course our emphasis is slightly different depending on whether it’s a developing country or a first world country. In western Europe and in a lot of the United States the big focus is on recovering food and showing how much waste there is while so many people are going hungry. In Africa the focus turns out to be the way that we make decisions which is we use a decision making process called ‘Formal Consensus’ and they like the non-hierarchical way that we organize with autonomous chapters. They like the fact that we are not connected with any religion and that we were promoting animal rights … “; and: “More recently there’s been a number of FNB’s activists arrested in the United States for terrorism. Right now we have only one in jail and one other recently died in jail – December 22, 2005″; and: ” … FNB’s has never agreed to do an act that would get them in trouble with us serving free food which resulted in over 1000 arrests in San Francisco. I faced life in prison, I spent 3 years in prison in California for doing this and that was around the period of time the government was started to say that FNB’s (foddnotbomb) is a terrorist group. The Pentagon used FNB’s as a case study for out of counter domestic terrorism. They have been doing that since 1989 since we first began getting reports of that”; and: ” … At the time we knew the Hurricane was coming I was actually feeding people not far away from Bush’s ranch when Cindy Sheehan who lost her son in Iraq was having a vigil. We were watching the Hurricane on the internet and some of us there were from New Orleans so I raced back to Tucson by bus, did a food drive which was very well received. We filled the bus up with food within 3 days and the headed back to New Orleans . Before we got there, there was a FNB’s chapter from Hartford, Connecticut had already arrived 3 days after the hurricane hit and we were the first and basically the only daily food program since the hurricane hit. We also worked with other groups such as ‘The Rainbow Family’ and with the American Association of Medical Students. We brought food to the whole Gulf region and also medical care, material support, clothing, tools and so on to people that were hit”. (full long interview text).

Food Not Bombs co-founder, Keith McHenry was born in Frankfurt, West Germany in 1957 while his father was stationed there in the army. His paternal great great grandfather was Dr. James McHenry, who signed the United States Constitution and served as a general in the Revolutionary War and as Secretary of War under George Washington he founded the U.S. military. His paternal grand father was ranger with the National Park Service. Keith’s paternal grandmother Bona Mae (Ford) McHenry picked cotton as a child in the New Mexico Territory. Two of her uncles, Bob and Charlie Ford joined Jesse Jame’s gang in 1882 and killed the famous train robber for a $10,000 reward. Her uncles were the subject of several popular folk songs. Keith’s maternal grandfather was an intelligence officer for the U.S. Army during World War II and helped plan the fire bombing of Tokyo and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He also was a lawyer in the Massachusetts State Attorney General’s Office. Keith’s mother Martha got her degree from Wellesley College, raised her family and ran their farm on Cape Cod.Keith moved with his family to Logan, Utah in 1958 where his father worked for Morton-Thiokol testing Minuteman Missiles while he worked on his Masters Degree in zoology at Utah State. Coincidentally, C.T. Butler’s father also worked at Thiokol in Utah during this time. However, Keith and C.T. did not meet until 21 years later at a protest of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station in 1979. After leaving Thiokol, Keith’s father worked for the National Park Service while Keith was growing up; so, Keith lived in the National Parks at Yosemite (CA), Yorktown (VA), Grand Canyon (AZ), Big Bend (TX), Shenandoah (VA), and the Everglades (FL). While living at Yorktown Keith would pretend he was a ranger and stand on a readout telling the story of the battle that lead to General Lord Cornwallis surrender to Washington at Yorktown, Virginia. By the fifth grade Keith started camping in the wilderness on his own. He played in the wild desert of Big Bend, Texas joining in games of basketball with the Mexico kids across the Rio Grande. He was one of 27 people stricken with cholera and the only one who lived.

In 1974, Keith began studying painting at Boston University and Worked afternoons, weekends, and summers as a tour guide and museum curator at the historic Old South Meeting House where the Boston Tea Party began. Keith told thousands of visitors the history of the colonial protest against the taxation with out representation and the dumping of tea from ships in the harbor. After college, Keith worked three years for the National Park Service at Fire Island Seashore as a sign painter and two years giving presentations about the battle of Bunker Hill and the revolution at Boston National Historic Park. Once Keith traveled across the United States working as the Superintendent of the Portland Art Museum in Oregon and at a clothing warehouse in Burbank, California. When he returned to Boston he worked many places including the Boston Paint Company, Budget Car rental Reilieys Roast Beef and with Bob and Ray Ann at the famous Passim Coffee House in Harvard Square where he prepared meals for audiance and the artists who performed there including Odetta, Tom Rush, and Allen Ginsberg. Keith also made trips to Seabrook, New Hampshire to protest Nuclear Power and organized actions in Boston, New York and Washington D.C. for peace in El Salvador and Iran,alternative energy and organic gardening as well as protests against the draft, drug testing, the Contra War in Central America, the nuclear arms race and many other issues.

In 1979, he started an advertising firm in Boston. He designed calendars, ads, and brochures for the Boston Celtics, the Boston Red Sox, the Environmental Protection Agency, and a multitude of commercial and alternative businesses. He won several Clio Awards for his designs. His anti-nuclear war street art became the subject of an Off Broadway play called Murder Now! and a film called The Sidewalk Sector. Years later he worked as a graphic designer for Hallmark Cards and produced a full color weekly magazine in Kansas City.

In 1980, Keith and seven friends created Food Not Bombs and rented a house at 195 Harvard Street in Cambridge. They participated in street performances with music, theater, puppets, literature, movies and food every week in Harvard Square, provided food to most of the housing projects and shelters in the Cambridge area, produced a free concert with free food in a park, organized and provided meals at protests all over the east coast. The green Dodge van Keith and his friends used made visits to the Good News garage run by Tom and Ray Magliozzi (aka Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers of NPR’s Car Talk) After eight years of serving free food and doing graphic arts work in Boston, Keith moved to San Francisco where he started a second Food Not Bombs group. Since then, Keith has been arrested over 100 times for serving free food in city parks and he has spent over 500 nights in jail. In 1995 Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Commission joined thousands of supporter in working for his release. He faced 25 years to life after being framed under the California Three Strikes Law, because of his Food Not Bombs work. He also co-authored and illustrated the book Food Not Bombs: How to Feed the Hungry and Build Community which has sold more than 10,000 copies in four languages. The 20th Anniversary English edition was published in Tucson by See Sharp Press.

His work with Food Not Bombs also appeared in Amnesty International’s Human Rights Report in 1995, No Trespassing by Anders Corr, Interviews With Icons by Lisa Law and in Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. There is a chapter about him in 50 American Revolutions You’re Not Supposed to Know by Mickey Z and his work on the UnFree Trade Tour are detailed in Por el Reparto del Trabajo y la Riqueza by Jose Iglesias Fernandez published in Madrid, Spain. The movements Keith helped start are featured in a number of books including Recipes for Disaster CrimethInc. ex-Workers’ Collective, Food Not Lawns, How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community, by Heather Coburn Flores and The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America’s Underground Food Movements by Sandor Ellix Katz. Keith’s character has appeared in several novels including Walking to Mercury by Starhawk and Homes Not Jails by Michael Stienburg and in the play Murder Now? by The Boston Theater Workshop. He is also featured in a number of documentaries including The Art of Being Mayor by Steve Tobin, Flashing on the Sixties by Lisa Law and The Sidewalk Sector by Richard Kaplin. For the entire list of books visit the Food Not Bombs books webpage.

He was the recipient the 1999 Local Hero Award by the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Resister of the Year in 1995 and the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness gave him the Advocate of the Year Award in 2006. Keith was also a pioneer in the Low powered FM radio movement and a co-founder of San Francisco Liberation Radio. He is a co-founder of the October 22nd No Police Brutality Day protests and he helped start Indymedia and the Homes Not Jails squatters’ movement in the United States. In 1997 Keith helped organize and participated in the UnFree Trade Tour of North America where the idea to shut down the World Trade Organization in Seattle was first proposed. He has been maintaining the Food Not Bombs web site since 1994 and he still updates many of the movement’s publications. Keith has been touring the world helping start Food Not Bombs groups and supporting existing chapters. He is also writing a book about the movement and his travels will be part of a documentary filmed and produced by Australian journalist Liz Tadic. Liz featured Keith’s work in Nigeria on SBS-TV’s Dateline. In 2005 Keith was busy coordinating busloads of food and kitchen equipment to the areas devastated by Katrina. Also in 2005 NBC-TV reported that the Pentagon classified a 2004 protest Keith helped organize against torture as an on-going, creditable terrorist threat. According to internal government documents the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force has been investigating and disrupting Food Not Bombs groups in Arizona, California, Colorado, Texas, North Carolina and many other states. Keith’s name was in a New York Times article where they published a U.S. State Department list of the 100 people who were not free to travel outside the country to attend protests. Even so he still travels often and has visited Food Not Bombs groups all over Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas. The last time Keith flew into the United States he was met at the door of the plane by two Homeland Security officers who searched his bags and wallet while questioning him about his work with Food Not Bombs and the peace movement. One of the officers typed in information from the contents of his wallet into a Homeland Security computer. There have been several reports that Food Not Bombs is listed on the FBI’s “Terrorist Watch List” (see on food not

Another biography on

See his paintings and drawings on Caliche.

For San Francisco Food Not Bombs activist Keith McHenry – who has gone to court nearly 100 times since 1988 for serving food without a permit – a date to appear before the Superior Court might seem run of the mill. Such is not the case for his July 11 engagement. (full text, 1994).

Watch a photo: Keith McHenry, the first of over 1,000 arrests of Food Not Bombs volunteers for sharing free food. The first 9 arrests for sharing lunch were at the Haight and Stanyan near the entrance to Golden Gate Park on August 15, 1988. (earthlink, 1988 ?).

… an anti-war activist organization comprised of over 200 independent chapters that serve vegetarian food to both homeless people and antiwar demonstrators in an effort to draw attention to FNB’s own protests against war and poverty around the globe … (full text).


The Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice;

IMDb message board for Keith McHenry;

Is this Heaven? For God, For Country, For Honor, August 27, 2007.

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