Keith McHenry
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Artist, Author, Chef, and Organizer
Keith McHenry was born in Frankfurt, West Germany in 1957 while his father was stationed there in with the Fourth Armored Division. His paternal great great grandfather's great grandfather was Dr. James McHenry, who signed the United States Constitution, served as a general on George Washington's staff in the American Revolution and as Secretary of War under Washington and Adams helping found the U.S. military. Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor was named for him and his son was stationed at the fort the day Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner. 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. His maternal grand father was a lawyer in the Massachusetts State Attorney General's Office and as an OSS officer was responsible for creating a flight plan for the B - 29s in the event that the atomic bombs on Japan had to be flown from his station in Burma. Keith's great great grandfather Karel Van de Poele invented the dynamo, the first out door lighting and built street car systems in cities all over the world. He died at age 46 in Lynn, Massachusetts leaving his wife and several children including Keith's great grandmother Adiline. 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 while he studied to get a Masters in Zoology at Utah State. After leaving Utah, Keith's father joined the National Park Service. Keith lived in the National Parks at Yosemite (CA), Yorktown (VA), Grand Canyon (AZ), Big Bend (TX), Shenandoah (VA), and the Everglades (FL).

In 1974, Keith began studying painting at Boston University and worked afternoons,weekends, and summers as a tour guide and assistant museum curator at Old South Meeting House where the Boston Tea Party began. After college, Keith worked three years for the National Park Service and traveled across the United States working as an artist. While working as a National Park Ranger he took classes in public speaking and gave as many as 5 presenations on colonial history of Boston a day.

In 1979, he started an advertising firm in Boston. His company, Brushfire Graphics designed calendars, ads, and brochures for the Boston Celtics, the Boston Red Sox, the Environmental Protection Agency, and a multitude of small businesses and associations. He won the Clio Award for print media for his display ads for John Dellaria Solons in Mademoiselle, Vogue Magazine, and other fashion magazines and for a print campaign for a local grocery store chain. . His artwork was the subject of an Off Broadway play produced by Theater Works in Boston and a film that opened at the Toronto Film Festival.

In 1980, Keith and seven friends created the all volunteer group, Food Not Bombs which now feeds the hungry in over 1,000 communities in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa.

Keith has organized and spoke on book tours in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East and Austrailia, Asia and Africa starting in 1994. He spoke at universities, book stores and community centers giving cooking demonstrations, speeches and lectures. He has been interviewed by the media in countries all over the world. He also arranged the details for the tours of other people including a tour of anti-globalization activists from Europe and the visit of France's former First Lady Danielle Mitterand to the United States to meet with Native American Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier.

His work with Food Not Bombs also appeared in many books including Amnesty International's Human Rights Report in 1995, Interviews With Icons by Lias 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. Keith designed a poster that can be seen several times in the movie Stranger Than Fiction. For the entire list of books visit the Food Not Bombs books webpage.

He was the recipiant 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. The Justice Studies Association's presented him with the 2012 Noam Chomsky Award.

Keith co-founded Indymedia in 1995 and 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. Keith coined the term "freegan" while dumpster diving behind a natural food grocery in Edmonton, Canada during the Rent is Theft Tour. 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 the site and many of the movement's other publications.

In 2005 Keith helped provide food at Cindy Sheehan's Camp Casey in Crawford Texas and was busy coordinating busloads of food and kitchen equipment to the areas devastated by Katrina. He also helped with the Sandy relief effort collecting and buying food, helping organize kitchens in Brooklyn and helping in the distribution. 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. Keith has had his phone tapped by the authorities for many years because of his work with Food Not Bombs. He discovered a San Francisco Police Memo during a civil rights case showing that his phone was tapped in 1988. When Keith flew into the United States from Turkey 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. Documents recovered in criminal cases, civil law suites and a number of Freedom of Information Act requests show that there have been an ongoing investigation in to Keith 's activities and that Food Not Bombs has been listed on the Homeland Security and FBI's "Terrorist Watch List"

He co-authored "Food Not Bombs How to feed the hungry and build community" and wrote and illustrated "Hungry for Peace - How you can help end poverty and war with Food Not Bombs." and "The Anarchist Cookbook."

Keith has traveled all over the world, speaking at colleges, books stores and cafes. While on tour he joins local Food Not Bombs activists helping them prepare and sharing free vegan meals with the public. He also helps coordinate logistics for the Food Not Bombs movement which is active in over 1,000 cities in 65 countries around the world.

When he isn't on the road Keith lives in Santa Cruz, California.

Keith 's tour schedule.
Keith 's Food Not Bombs paintings and prints.

Documents, official letters and internal government memos.
Please consider making a donation to Food Not Bombs.

Keith McHenry
P.O. Box 422
Santa Cruz, CA 95061

Additional information about the work of Keith McHenry