TAMPA, Fla. - Lettuce, cucumbers and cauliflower mixed together and washed in water and vinegar are what more than 300 demonstrators living in Romneyville will have for dinner.
Richard Rawski is mixing the raw ingredients with his bare hands.
"This is all donated from different farmers, different groups, churches, people," explained Rawski.
Romneyville is a tent city which sprung up in a vacant parking lot on Tampa Street near I-275 for the Republican National Convention.
"This is reality," said Tara Colon, 36, who has lived in tent cities since she was a teenager.
The mother of five came to Tampa from Philadelphia because she is fighting homelessness and has concerns over a vanishing middle class in America. Colon's 16-year-old was born in a tent city.
"That shouldn't be in the richest country of the world," said Colon.
Living in the tent city is nothing short of raw and dangerous. At night, different residents stand guard at security huts. A sign leading into a group of tents behind a fence warns that no one is allowed in after 10 p.m.
To an outsider, this city may seem chaotic. Look deeper and you will find it is highly organized.
On one school bus, food is stored. Some of the food is in boxes others are in tattered suitcases.
When it comes to doing dishes after a meal, there is an assembly line of buckets. Some are filled with water and others are filled with bleach.
"The second wash after the first rinse, you take the water from there and pour it over there that way you keep that water relatively clean," explained a female dishwasher.
During the day, residents take down some of their tents to form a community gathering spot.
"We have space to be together," Colon explained.
Classes are held during the day as well.
Among those living in the tent city are homeless people, formerly homeless people and disabled veterans. They have come to Tampa to bring different causes to light like living greener, homeless, veteran's rights and the economy.
"In America today you have to learn how to survive because no one guarantees that you are going to have a job for 30 years like they guaranteed my parents," Colon said.
Most of those living in the city are not doing so by choice--they have no other option. In these camps, they are trading skills on how to survive with no money and little food.
"This is reality. This is not make believe or made up, this is how people on a daily basis have to live," Colon explained.
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