Activist Keith McHenry and the group he helped found, Food Not Bombs, have been feeding homeless people on
the streets of San Francisco for years. Their activities have often put them at odds with the police and municipal
In August of 1993, responding to the influx of homeless people into San Francisco, the administration of Mayor
Frank Jordan instituted the Matrix Program, which was described as a comprehensive attempt to deal with the
problem of homelessness in San Francisco, and which involved a combination of police enforcement actions and
social outreach initiatives. The Matrix Program has been the subject of heated debate and controversy in San
Francisco since its inception. The program's critics say it is really an organized system of police harassment of the
homeless, designed to run them out of certain parts of San Francisco, or out of the city altogether. The Mayor
maintains that the real purpose of Matrix is to help homeless people obtain help through government and private
social aid programs.
Since the Matrix Program began, confrontations between Food Not Bombs and the police have escalated, and
arrests of Food Not Bombs activists have increased. Despite this, Food Not Bombs continues its daily feeding
programs, while its members face arrest and possible imprisonment.
In "The Great San Francisco Food Fight," producer Gary Covino traces the history of the Matrix Program and the
debate and soul-searching it has prompted in San Francisco, as a way of examining the situation of homeless
people in cities throughout the United States.