Council receives pushback over charitable food distribution proposals

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City-County Council Democrats flipped the script by introducing a proposal Monday night that mirrored a 2020 Republican-led effort to control charitable food distribution, but pushback from community members caused the group to delay a decision on the proposal until more feedback can be gathered.

Proposal 256 would require those who are donating food to 10 or more people to register, for free, with the Office of Public Health and Safety at least 48 hours before distribution. The proposal makes an exception for those giving at designated giving sites, at Babe Denny Park and Old City Hall.

Proposal 256 is similar to Proposal 291, sponsored by Republican Councilor Michael-Paul Hart in 2020. Both seek to prevent littering, property damage and violence during charitable giving through registration. But, in 2020, all but one Democrat on the council’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee voted against Hart’s proposal on the grounds that it could penalize donors.

Now, locals are concerned Proposal 256 has the same possibility, spurring a small protest outside of the City-County Building on Monday evening.

A statement from Democrats and proposal co-sponsors Council President Vop Osili, Vice President Zach Adamson and Councilor Kristin Jones said the new proposal is meant to promote usage of the safe distribution sites, which would receive new portable bathrooms, handwashing stations and cleaning services. Those upgrades would be paid for with a $76,000 appropriation called for in a related measure, Proposal 250.

In response to the community feedback, the group announced that a public hearing on the proposals would be delayed.

“In the last few days, we have heard from community members regarding Proposal 256 and concerns about proposed changes to charitable distribution of food,” the statement said. “We appreciate and value the feedback we have received about the proposals and would like to provide more opportunity for discussion.”

The Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee will hold a hearing on both proposals Aug. 24 at 5:30 p.m.

“This will allow time to engage with stakeholders on how we can best serve our neighbors experiencing homelessness and food insecurity while also ensuring coordination of food distribution and other services,” the statement said.

Correction: The original version of this story used an incorrect first name for City-County Council Vice President Zach Adamson. It has been corrected.

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2 thoughts on “Council receives pushback over charitable food distribution proposals

  1. Our shelters do an excellent job of feeding the homeless. They provide nutritious meals that are cooked in commercial grade kitchens with health and safety standards and they are consistent in time and place of distribution so everyone knows where they can go and when. At the mission, they get to know the people who come in and can tell if the person needs additional services – medical, psychological, addiction, etc. Groups come downtown without prior notice, no one knows when they will be around or where. No oversight on how the food is cooked. With no notice to the shelters, more food is cooked than consumed so there is more waste. Usually the groups don’t provide tables and chairs, hand washing materials or trash receptacles – creating an uncomfortable, unsanitary and polluted environment. If the groups register, there is an opportunity to post that information so everyone knows where and when and if anyone is sickened by the food, the city will know who did it. Please support these proposals for the health and welfare of our homeless population.