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In today’s politically correct world, it even the simplest acts of generosity can be interpreted as offensive to someone. Simple greetings such as “Merry Christmas” invoke controversy. However, when the state begins regulating acts of kindness, simple events such as feeding the homeless can become a regulatory nightmare.
The Los Angeles City Council is currently considering a proposal to ban feeding the homeless in public as an effort to reduce the homeless population and temper residents’ fears.
A similar ordinance has been implemented in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and has been met with national outrage after the arrest of a 90-year-old World War II veteran was arrested for violating the ordinance and feeding the homeless.
In 2013, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals ordered 1,600 pounds of donated venison to be destroyed instead of being fed to the homeless. This regulation came as a surprise for Hunters For The Hungry, a group that had been donating wild game to homeless shelters since 1993. When explaining why donations of wild game were no longer allowed after two decades of being consumed in homeless shelters, a state representative explained that the state, “cannot allow a potentially serious health threat to endanger the public”.
The city of Dallas requires good Samaritans to obtain permits before feeding the homeless. In their frequently asked question section the city explains that the reason for the ordinance was that there was a need for partnering and sharing information with social service providers.
While the nation struggles with how to regulate acts of benevolence, California has been active in attempting to facilitate food bank donations to feed the homeless.
In an announcement endorsing December as Farm to Food Bank month, Gov. Jerry Brown expressed concern for the agricultural sector due to the drought, and emphasized the importance of supporting the agricultural industry:
California is America’s most robust and bountiful agricultural producer. With over 81,000 farms and approximately 400 crops, agriculture in the Golden State is responsible for feeding much of the nation and world.
The Farm to Food Bank program is intended to bring fresh produce to the tables of California’s homeless as well as support the Ag industry.
California’s donation policies still allow for many sources of food donations, and programs like Farm to Food Bank offer hope for the state’s support of allowing citizens to assist one another in times of need.
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