It is becoming more common for cities across the United States to enact homeless feeding bans. Consequently, ?there are more and more reports of humanitarians being arrested, fined, and even incarcerated for feeding the hungry. This?week we learned of?90-year-old pastor Arnold Abbott’s story, who was recently arrested in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for doing what he has done for over 20 years, filling hungry bellies.
Apparently, feeding the homeless, also known as food sharing, is the newest misdemeanor to hit the street. This is such a growing problem that the National Coalition for the Homeless released a report in October titled Share No More: The Criminalization Efforts to Feed People in Need.
Here are 9 important things you need to know about homeless feeding?bans:
- Over the last two years, 21 cities have restricted food sharing. Ten others are currently working to restrict food sharing practices.
- Proponents of food sharing bans believe providing meals to the homeless is a form of enabling.
- A Key West city commissioner, Tony Yaniz, suggested a local soup kitchen should cut back on their services saying, ?What we’ve got to do is quit making it cozy . . . let’s not feed them anymore.?
- 57 U.S. cities have attempted to restrict, ban or relocate food sharing. Florida leads the charge with 11 cities on the list, the most of any state in the country.
- Due to increased demand, 78 percent of cities had to reduce the number of times a person could visit the food pantry each month and 66 percent had to turn people away due to lack of resources.
- Those who ignore food-sharing bans can face hefty fines and even jail time for extending compassion to someone that is hungry.
- According to the USDA, 14.3 percent of the U.S. population, which equates to 17.5 million households, were food insecure in 2013. Of those, 6.8 million households were considered as having very low food security ? unchanged from the previous two years.
- Permits to feed the homeless in Sacramento, California can be as high as $1,250 and an organization may have a maximum of four permits per year.
- It wasn’t until November 19, 2009 that the United States joined the world consensus that The Right to Food is an international human right.
Where is the outrage over this? How can our lawmakers continually push for the reduction of food stamps and other social programs, often stating churches and other private organizations should be able to pick up the slack, while local governments continue to tie the hands of the private organizations attempting to help?
Elizabeth Preston is a thirty-something wife and mother of three living in Florida. She is a fierce liberal with a passion?for equality and justice. She is a skeptic by nature and often the Facebook friend that rains on the urban legend parade with fact checking. Give her Facebook page a?like, follow her on?Twitter and check out her personal blog My Four Ha? Pennies.