Philadelphia Bans Outdoor Feeding of Homeless

By: Mike Fossum - March 15, 2012

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has just announced enacted a ban on the feeding of homeless people around the Benjamin Franklin Parkway area. This includes Love Park, where outreach groups commonly offer free food to large numbers of the indigent. Nutter states that the feedings are both unsanitary and undignified, adding that “providing to those who are hungry must not be about opening the car trunk, handing out a bunch of sandwiches, and then driving off into the dark and rainy night.”

Project Home’s leading homeless advocate, Sister Mary Scullion, supports the measure, stating that the mayor is “between a rock and a hard place” concerning the issue of outdoor feeding. Scullion adds, “I really want to thank the mayor for this courageous… this is not an easy position. But I do think it’s a great opportunity.”

Though, Brian Jenkins of Chosen 300 Ministries, a homeless outreach group that does both indoor and outdoor feedings opposes the ban, and states “the fact that city of Philadelphia is saying now that the homeless don’t have the right to eat on the Ben Franklin Parkway or eat around Center City is a clear violation of civil rights. It says that people that have… can eat in a certain place. But people that have not, can’t.”

Nutter’s office will try to work with advocate groups to promote more indoor feedings, and for now, food can be offered on the north apron of City Hall. The ban on park feedings takes place in 30 days, and groups in violation face 2 warnings, and then a $150 fine. Also, family gatherings in the park aren’t affected by the ban.

Charity measures regarding the homeless have recently been in the news regarding the Homeless Hotspots controversy at the SXSW Festival in Austin, TX. Marketing agency BBH labs was sending homeless people out with wifi devices, in attempts to get people to give them tips for free internet service. Some have said that this was an affront to the dignity of the homeless.

Mike Fossum

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Mike FossumMike is a writer and videographer based in Lexington, KY. Follow Mike on Twitter and Google+.

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  • Linda

    This is clearly a cleansing of the image of Phila to coordinate with the recent artwork heist of the Barnes collection. Mayor Nutter should be ashamed of himself for buckling under the pressure to keep the homeless out of sight. How is it that no concern over clean hands has been raised until now? Altruistic efforts on the behalf of the homeless and hungry have saved countless taxpayer dollars. Volunteerism is encouraged by our present and past presidents but Mayor Nutter wants to stop it? I will stand in any line to oppose this. As an active member and contributor to Chosen 300, I commend all efforts to stop the insanity. Mayor Nutter has washed his own hands of any decency in this matter. Bad decision. Mayor Nutter is a decent man being steered in the wrong direction on this one.

    • Brian Jenkins

      Thanks Linda

  • http://Facebook Wendy riddell

    I think it is a terrible idea to stop a charity doing its kindness to the homeless and the hungry . And family that want a day out that what we want the parks for for picnic areas the table and benches are there so what they used for the bins are for litter and we pay taxes to keep the park for its uses of pleasure picnic’s and some where to relax . Not to get fined for eating what ever next. Be a fine for sitting next .

  • Brian Jenkins

    Thank you all for your comments. Let’s keep up the fight for those that are poor. There is also another issue. The ban is city wide and the mayor only has provided a place for the homeless to eat around city hall. Although I don’t agree with the measure all together because homeless people have the right to eat where everyone else is allowed to, this causes a serious strain for families and homeless in other parts of the city who depend on meals to survive. It is clear that since the only alternative place that was provided was provided in center city they are really only concerned about the parkway, not on the health of the homeless.

  • Brian Jenkins

    One more note – We will not be moving. God’s Family Barb B Que begins 1st Sat in May at 5:00 PM and Every Saturday till October at 5:00 PM as we always have.

  • lisa

    so you are telling me i can take my kids down to the park for lunch on a blanket, and let them run around and burn off some energy, but i am not allowed to off the homeless man who slept under the park bench the sandwich and bag of chips, that was left over? this makes no since to me, if i have enough to share with the less forturnate i am going to do so, you know why, cause id want someone to do the same for me if i was hungry. only people with no feelings dont think about if there were in a homeless persons shoes. FORCE THE RICH TO GO HUNGRY FOR ONE DAY, THEYD BE BEGGING PASSER BYS FOR A BITE TO EAT! SOME PROBABLY EVEN DIGGING IN TRASH CANS FOR FOOD!

  • Z. Jamila Abdur-Rahman

    “Rich relation give, A crust of bread and such ~ You can help your self but don’t take to much”… Lyrics from Billie Holiday’s GOD BLESS THE CHILD that got his own. Let’s first talk Morality.. Philadelphia slogan is “The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection what kind of Love or Affection is it to turn away from some one in need. I never met a homeless person who walked out of his or her home and chose to be homeless. I thought is was a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT to have FOOD, shelter & clothing? Lastly, Today it is LOVE (ironically) Park and areas of City Hall, where will it be tomorrow and who will it be next. When we start stripping away common decency and $Fine$ the heart for caring, making it illegal, then we have truly reached the bottom of the pot of humanity. Mayor Nutter this is NOT in our best interest and you are WRONG.