Published on April 21st, 20150
The Liberty to Feed the Poor
On the night she was ticketed, Chef Joan Cheever’s menu included fresh vegetable soup, lamb meatballs over wheat pasta, braised Southern greens, and a salad with roasted beets. She plans to appear in a San Antonio court to contest the $2,000 citation. Her offense: serving food to a line of grateful homeless people.
She’s been donating similar meals every Tuesday for a decade. But neither the commercial kitchen where she prepares her food nor the licensed food handlers who serve it nor a food truck that meets all health codes nor her status as a local celebrity excused her apparent failure to obtain a special permit for giving away food free of charge. “Do Good Samaritans get tickets in San Antonio?” she asked the police officer who wrote her up, as she recalls the exchange. “Yes,” he replied.
What makes the encounter a matter of national rather than local concern is the fact that it is not an anomaly. All over the United States, local governments are coercing individuals and organizations to stop helping their least-well-off neighbors. The National Coalition for the Homeless reported last year that at least 31 cities had restricted or banned food-sharing. The Washington Postoffers examples: “Late last year, police in Fort Lauderdale busted a 90-year-old World War II veteran named Arnold Abbott twice in one week for feeding the homeless. In Raleigh, N.C., a church group said the cops threatened to arrest them if they served food to the homeless. And in Daytona Beach, Fla., authorities unsuccessfully levied $2000 in fines against six people for feeding the homeless at a park.”
Source: The Atlantic. Read full article.