Philadelphia outdoor feeding ban still in limbo

Soon Philadelphia plans to enforce a ban on feeding hungry people in public parks.  City Council took testimony but it’s unclear if it will hold official hearings on the matter.

Reggie Marrow chose to put his opinions on the feeding ban into song.  For about an hour opponents urged Philadelphia City Council to reject the plan.  

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell says it’s designed to get homeless people away from the Barnes Foundation gallery that will open next month on the Parkway — something the Nutter administration denies.  It says the plan is to move meals indoors where poor people can get other kinds of help.

Blackwell says an alternative temporary feeding site outside City Hall won’t work.

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“Feeding on the Northeast Corner and bringing porta-toilets there and having people walk block or two to eat here and then go back to the same block or two where they sleep in the streets is not realistic its not a permanent solution,” said Blackwell.

School children, ministers and others who feed the hungry testified, including Shawn Lainey, who is homeless himself.

“Quite a few of the homeless do not feel comfortable in a church setting or a shelter. to stop serving food on the parkway would put them at a great disadvantage,” said Lainey.

Brian Jenkins of Chosen 300 ministries says his group will violate the ban if it is imposed.

“So if you ban public feeding what happens is a lot of people will go hungry and it stimulates crime and aggressive panhandling and a lot of things the city does not need,” said Jenkins.  “These people need help they need hope, but more importantly they need food and it is our responsibility as a community to make sure they will receive that food.”

A spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter says Philadelphia still has to hold another public hearing on the ban before it can take effect, and it has not been scheduled.

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