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Should You Be Allowed to Feed Homeless Home-Cooked Meals?

Should it be legal for people to provide home-cooked food to the homeless?

by Countable | 1.9.19

What’s the story?

  • The Freedom Center of Missouri is suing St. Louis over regulations that prevent people from providing home-cooked meals to the homeless.
  • The federal lawsuit alleges that the policy violates the constitutional rights to freely practice religion, as various faiths mandate helping those in need.

What’s the backstory?

  • In October, police in St. Louis fined Rev. Ray Redlich and Chris Ohnimus for giving bologna sandwiches to homeless people without first obtaining the proper permits. They were cited for violating health code laws.
  • The Freedom Center of Missouri, which is representing the pair, argues that St. Louis and cities with similar laws use fines and threats of legal action to “bully” people who feed the homeless.
  • “They know that the ordinary folks wouldn’t have the emotional or financial resources to fight back,” said Dave Roland, director of litigation for the nonprofit and attorney for both men.
“So by throwing citations at them and hauling them into court, they think they can just make these people stop pursuing their constitutional rights.”
  • But City Counselor Julian Bush argues it’s about health, not religion.
  • “People want to be protected by their governments from unsafe food, and at the same time be free of officious meddling by governments in their personal affairs. It is sometimes difficult to draw the line between providing adequate protection and imposing too much red tape,” Bush wrote in a statement.
"If these sandwiches had poisoned those who consumed them, there would have been an outcry that there was insufficient regulation; if not, there is a protest of over-regulation.”

What do you think?

Should you be able to feed the homeless home-cooked meals? Or do cities need to protect people from unsafe food? Take action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman


(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / AndreyPopov)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(264)
  • Ken
    01/09/2019
    ···

    Laws that prohitit the giving of hot meals to the needy because the food may not be safe to eat. Food is one item that most people are willing to give to those in need. Food is a basic human necessity. The hungry get a hot meal and you or I can know that we made that meal possible. That almost sounds like a caring and humane act. Stopping this by law sounds inhumane.

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  • Riley
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
    ···

    Yes of course! It's not like they are being forced to eat it. They have to decide if they want to take that risk. Why prevent someone from giving it to him?

    Like (27)
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  • Dave
    Voted Maybe
    01/09/2019
    ···

    Should you be able to feed the homeless home-cooked meals? Only if you are Liable. I have no problem as lone you are responsible for any outcome. Give to local groups food and money, they have better process and flow, plus buy in bulk.

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  • Gerald
    Voted No
    01/09/2019
    ···

    One question why not

    Like (4)
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  • Cindylen
    01/09/2019
    ···

    I am having a hard time figuring out an alternative to home cooked food. Would it be better to feed them McDs? You could argue that that would be detrimental to their health. Does your religious place have a cafeteria? As long as it is clean, I don’t see a problem. Is the food made in someone’s kitchen? Is it reasonably clean? Then okay. Laws should not unreasonably keep us from helping one another.

    Like (18)
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  • ManfromNebraska
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
    ···

    It’s a free country or At least that’s what the founders intended. If someone wants to help the poor let them. “But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” Luke‬ ‭14:13-14‬

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  • David
    Voted Maybe
    01/09/2019
    ···

    This is an interesting lawsuit given the difficulty the government has protecting our food supply commercially. There have been numerous ecoli outbreaks and food recalls recently, including lettuce! Compassion is likely to have better outcomes than the greed of for-profit business.

    Like (9)
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  • John
    Voted No
    01/10/2019
    ···

    Of course it shouldn’t be illegal to feed anyone who is hungry. Or provide clothing or shelter. This question has made me look inward and ask myself if I can do more for the homeless just a couple of blocks away.

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  • SneakyPete
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
    ···

    Why the Heck Not....... Or should have them becoming dependent on a Democratic Socialist program for support creating an increase in their voter base. SneakyPete.......... 🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔. 1*9*19..........

    Like (17)
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  • Jeanie
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
    ···

    You aren't selling it, you are giving it away to needy homeless people. It shouldn't be governed by city health codes. Also, people are accepting food at their own risk and can't hold the other party liable.

    Like (13)
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  • Tinee
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
    ···

    I have had open BBQs in the park or chose to have lunch with homeless people. Because I have empathy. Sometimes all it takes is for one person to show their care to make a difference. I once invited a homeless guy to a buffet with me. He told me it was the first time in 10 years anyone had treated him with respect not pity. One bad day caused him to end up on the streets. That meal changed his life. 3 years later the man recognized me at a store. He gave me one of his business cards. He told if I ever needed anything to let him know. He is now helping others to get out of the situation he was in. Whomever wants to make it against the law to feed or help homeless people or animals, that whomever has no empathy.

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  • Tracy
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
    ···

    And restaurants & grocery stores should be able to donate without fear of repercussions

    Like (11)
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  • Hillary
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
    ···

    Have we become so inhumane that we think people forced to live on the streets deserve to starve? This is not like feeding squirrels or feral cats. Dear God, that this is even a question is disgusting.

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  • Chickie
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
    ···

    Well said @Robert! What has happened to common decency in our county? Have we become so litigious that those who take care of those without food, shelter or care, should be charged of a crime? Are those in need to be treated as they don’t matter? Shame on whomever denies compassion towards those in need. If you have become so oblivious to the plight of others, perhaps it’s time to have a long look in the mirror.

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  • BlueSphere
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
    ···

    I hate the way this question is worded. Homeless people are not animals; there’s no “feeding them.” Individuals or groups offering home-cooked meals, do so out of love and concern, and homeless people are free to accept or decline these meals. The bigger question is why we have so many homeless and hungry people in the first place. Feigning concern about food safety while people go hungry is bullshit.

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  • John
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
    ···

    Stop the war on the poor, the homeless, and the working class.

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  • Christian
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
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    Seems like common sense compassion to me.

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  • Lesia
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
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    Feeding the homeless shouldn’t be a crime.

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  • W
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
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    This should not be up for a vote.

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  • Andrea
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
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    Ridiculous to get involved with stopping people from being compassionate. But for grace there go I??? Why are people policing those of us who choose to help those less fortunate. The world is going crazy! Over 400000 lbs of food is tossed , not allowed to GIVE it away??? Let’s focus live @ let live, my god there’s so many homeless & we have houses all over dilapidating, being allied to be drug hides outs. We surely need a fresh eye & kinder hearts. 💯❣️🦋

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  • Leslie
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
    ···

    If we are the greatest country in the history of the world why do we have such poverty and suffering in the 21st century? I do not believe we can send a man to the moon and not care for humanity. Get your priorities straight, and REPRESENT me, which means you are to pass legislation allowing the freedom to help the poor, as we are called on to do. Gleaning is referenced in the Bible. And the Quran. And Torah...Buddhism, and all major religions call for providing for those less fortunate than us, which is it's own issue for another day (UBI). I actually designed a rescued food distribution network for a grad school project that was modeled off a mashup between Meals on Wheels, FedEx and the old milkman. You can too. Bottom line is, We, The People, have sent you to REPRESENT us, and that means we want these issues solved yesterday. As long as it's ethical, we don't care how you do it, JUST DO IT.

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  • Leslie
    Voted Yes
    01/09/2019
    ···

    AS AN AMERICAN I DAMN WELL BETTER BE ALLOWED TO TAKE CARE OF ANYONE WHO NEEDS IT! UNLIKE THE HORRORS OF HUMAN BEINGS THAT CAN EVEN THINK UP BILLS LIKE THIS! WHOEVER CAME UP WITH THIS CRAP NEEDS TO BE HUMANIZED OR CAGED FOR LIFE.

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