As many of you have heard, on June 1st an ordinance went into effect that bans feeding the homeless in public spaces. The initial restrictions were that there could be no feeding in public parks (Love Park, along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, etc), groups wishing to feed the public would need to get a permit and could feed at a designated place at City Hall on their assigned day and time, and those caught feeding without a permit could be fined $250. The concerns expressed by Mayor Nutter and advocates for this ban are that outdoor feeding is not safe or respectful of the people being served. They suggested that bringing meals inside would provide more dignity and other social services could be offered.
As the ban goes into effect, there have been no sites opened for public feeding and no notice of where to apply for a feeding permit. It seems as though the promise of alternatives has fallen away. Project H.O.M.E. has withdrawn their support of the ordinance due to the lack of alternative service sites. In the face of this ordinance, Broad Street Ministry is now opening its doors for lunch on Saturdays. Saturdays are a huge lunch distribution day in Philadelphia. We Feed the Homeless Philly distributes meals on Saturdays, as does Chosen 300 and other independent church groups. These groups stand together in ignoring the food ordinance and providing meals regardless.
How does this effect Old First? Several of our service camps serve food to the homeless in the parks and in the subways. We have all been concerned with how their ministry to the homeless will change. We were planning to apply for permits and work with the program that was set before us. Now that the ban is in effect, there is no plan for public feedings. I will be doing what I can to find out what policies are being implemented to offer food for the homeless in public spaces. Meanwhile, we pray for health, safety and comfort for all the homeless men and women in Philadelphia.
Copy of Sister Mary Scullion’s letter to Mayor Nutter: http://www.projecthome.org/news/?id=220
Broad Street Ministry: https://www.facebook.com/BroadStreetMinistry
Chosen 300: http://chosen300.org