Task force: Philly doesn’t have enough indoor space to serve meals to homeless

Even though Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter wants volunteer groups to hand out meals to the hungry inside instead of in public parks, a new report says there isn’t enough indoor space to accommodate the distribution.

The mayor’s Task Force on Outdoor Serving of Food has put out a 59-page report saying about 300 people seek food every day on the streets of Center City. The indoor space currently available isn’t big enough to serve them all.

Nutter says he wants to develop a consensus plan to hand out meals to the needy with dignity.

“No matter what their station in life, people deserve meals that meet the standards for food safety in a place where they are protected from the elements and can access supportive services that can improve the quality of their individual lives,” Nutter said.

The Rev. Brian Jenkins of Chosen 300 ministries, one of the groups that fought in court to get Nutter’s policy put on hold, said he has a major problem with the report.

“One of the things that is challenging in this report is that it doesn’t value the outdoor program,” Jenkins said. “The value of the outdoor program is it’s the first line of defense for people who are entering into the homeless population.”

Jenkins’ group serves meals indoors as well as on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. He says if the city wants to move people off the streets, it’s going to have to help build the capacity for indoor programs.

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