Serving food at homeless camps feeds controversy


About 25 protestors marched on City Hall Wednesday against proposed regulations on feeding of the hardcore homeless.

A city council committee advanced the ordinance last week that is now pending before the full council.

Protestors say it would be a burden to small groups and individuals who feed people at homeless camps.

City officials say such feedings are illegal now without a permit that the groups mostly do not get. The ordinance would allow them to get a new kind of free permit.

To protect the health of the homeless, food would have to be prepared in a permitted kitchen and transported under proper temperature.

There would also have to be a marked wrapper or container so food could be traced in case it causes illness. Waste containers would have to be on hand. Food providers would have to get training on food service and on shelter services and social service agencies that help the homeless.

Opponents say the regulations are not needed. They say the real issue is neighbors don’t want the homeless near them.

City officials say the feeding makes matters worse by enabling homeless people to stay in unsanitary, unsightly and crime-prone camps instead of shelters.

Protestor Donna Simon, pastor at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church on Troost, said site feedings are the only answer for some homeless.

“You get guys who don’t want to be in a shelter and really don’t want a lot of services,” she said.

Protestor Susan Lackamp of the Manheim Park neighborhood said they wanted to bring the ordinance into public view.

“It’s the spirit of it that is the most troubling,” she said. “People should be able to share food; we need to support each other – that’s what it’s all about.”

Talks on the issue have been underway for more than a year since police, the city and neighborhood residents cracked down on a large homeless camp by Kessler Park in the northeast area.

Police closed the camp, with its raw sewage, petty crime and mounds of trash that included food containers.

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