This week Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced a ban on the feeding of large numbers of homeless and hungry people on, or near, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and on all outdoor feedings of large numbers of people on city parkland.
Anyone that violates the outdoor feeding ban would face two warnings and then a $150 fine.
Nutter claims that feeding hungry homeless people violates sanitary conditions and dignity: “Providing to those who are hungry must not be about opening the car trunk, handing out a bunch of sandwiches, and then driving off into the dark and rainy night."
His decision has provoked mixed reactions.
Project Home’s Sister Mary Scullion voiced tentative support for the mayor’s announcement:
“I really want to thank the mayor for this courageous … this is not an easy position. But I do think it’s a great opportunity."
However, Brian Jenkins of Chosen 300 Ministries, a homeless outreach group, objected: “The fact that city of Philadelphia is saying now that the homeless don’t have the right to eat on the Ben Franklin Parkway or eat around Center City is a clear violation of civil rights,” Jenkins explained. “It says that people that have … can eat in a certain place. But people that have not, can’t.”
Homeless groups will be allowed to offer food on the north apron of City Hall, if they register with the city.