To feed or not to feed, that is the question?

By Ronald K. Mc Kinley

In most major cities there are ordinances stopping or restricting the feeding of the homeless. Las Vegas, “home of Lost Wages,” was one of the first. A federal judge has blocked that law.

New York’s mayor Bloomberg blocked food donations to all government-run homeless shelters, concerned that the donated food would not be nutritious enough. We all know that no food is better than food of low nutritional value. Stop me if you’ve heard this joke before.

Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love,” had its mayor Nutter saying that feeding them lacked sanitary conditions, a common excuse, and took away the dignity of the homeless. Their dignity was more important than eating. He loses his dignity several times a day.

Houston’s christian organization “Feed a Friend” was banned and told they would not be granted a permit in the future. Christian rapper Tre9, Bobby Herring, appeared before the City Council and won some wiggle room.

Dallas area pastor Dan Hart is suing over food ordinance. Suing for free exercise of religion protected by the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. “It is what Jesus did,” he said.

In Orlando, 12 “Food not Bombs” activists were arrested. The activists needed a permit if large groups of people are within 2 miles of city hall. Sounds like they don’t want to be occupied. Each group is allowed two permits per park per year. Food not Bombs exceeded their limit. They knew they would be arrested.

In Venice, an anonymous donor gave money to Whole Foods to feed the homeless once a month on Sundays. Whole Foods, heartened, decided to feed every Sunday. The “housed” went ballistic. Kelly Layne, marketing supervisor for Whole Foods, first approached by the donor, connected with Steve Clare of Venice Community Housing Corporation (VCHC). He offered his facility across the street from Whole Foods, on Rose, for feeding. The homeless haters were still not appeased. The feeding was moved to the boardwalk, in front of the Adda & Paul Safran Senior Housing Presbyterian Home, 151 Ocean Front Walk. There are two spaces designated as feeding places on OFW, 69 and 205, the last space on OFW.

I got up at 7 in the morning, no small feat, to see the feeding. I got to 151 OFW at 8:00, there was a short line. That grew fast. I asked people in line about the food, as I knew some of them. The responses were all positive. People talked and caught up on boardwalk gossip. It was a warm somewhat humid day.

Only one man did not seem to be happy. He bellowed of someone who was after him over some transgression. He was ignored as he sought out an audience. Someone said, “ we don’t want to hear that shit.” At a lost to a come back, he stopped his rant.

At 8:30 Whole Foods showed up and started to setup. The line now held about 90 people. They where instructed by a volunteer about trash, and not to sit on the steps of 151 OFW. A patrol car pulled up about ten minutes later. A portly officer extracted himself, with effort, from the black & white. He lectured the volunteers and then squeezed back into black & white and left.

The food consisted of a breakfast burrito, scrambled eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, juice, coffee, pastry. The best of Whole Foods breakfast menu. About 250 people were fed that day. It was a beautiful thing to watch.

The homeless are a quantum of humanity, a section of America. The haters would have you believe that all homeless are drug users, lazy, criminals, with no social grace, waiting for the next hand out.

This sounds like some of our elected officials. The economic collapse was not caused by poor people, but by greed. The homeless population will continue to grow.

A year ago I would have been standing in this line. Thanks to St. Joseph Center and VCHC I am no longer homeless. Albert Einstein said, “Problems can not be solved with the same level of awareness that created them.”