Tags: florida | homeless | food distribution | fort lauderdale

Veteran Cited in Florida Again for Feeding the Homeless

Veteran Cited in Florida Again for Feeding the Homeless
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 13 November 2014 11:54 AM

World War II veteran Arnold Abbott once again was cited by police on Wednesday for feeding homeless people on a Fort Lauderdale beach, the latest development in a showdown that has focused attention on Florida laws regulating the homeless.

Media attention has intensified since Abbott, who runs a nonprofit group, Love Thy Neighbor, was arrested on Nov. 2 for violating a city ordinance barring feeding the homeless in public, reports the Florida Sun Sentinel.

"I'm exhilarated by the fact that so many people are here to support us," Abbott told the paper. About 75 homeless people took part in the Wednesday food distribution, the Sun Sentinel said.

Protesters also demonstrated outside Mayor Jack Seiler's  home to voice their objections to the city's homeless policies.

"Florida has had a sorry history of criminalizing the homeless," said Michael Stoops, director of community organizing for the National Coalition for the Homeless, told The New York Times.

"That war is being played out all around the country. Florida leads the pack."

The ordinance, which was approved by Ft. Lauderdale's city commission on Oct. 22, regulates how nonprofit and church groups could serve food to the homeless. The ordinance set standards concerning food preparation, where food could be served in public, and requires toilet facilities, according to The Broward/Palm Beach New Times.

"The ordinance does not prohibit feeding the homeless; it regulates the activity in order to ensure it is carried out in an appropriate, organized, clean and healthy manner," wrote  Seiler in a recent op-ed in the Miami Herald.

He added that the ordinance does permit "indoor food distribution to take place at houses of worship throughout the city" and that "city is actually increasing the number of locations where the homeless can properly receive this service."

This week the Fort Lauderdale offered Love Thy Neighbor two alternative locations but Abbott turned down both offers, according to the mayor's office.

Abbott is not the first person to run afoul of local ordinances prohibiting feeding the homeless.

In 2011, Houston residents Amanda and Bobby Herring had their "Feed a Friend" program shut down because they failed to obtain a permit to serve food for public consumption, the Houston Chronicle reported.

In order to get the permit, the couple would have to prepare the food in a certified kitchen with a certified food manager, Kathy Barton, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department, told the paper.

Efforts to restrict public feeding of the homeless have increased in recent years.

Since January 2013, 21 cities passed restrictions on sharing food with the homeless and at least 10 others have introduced ordinances that are pending approval, according to a new National Coalition for Homeless report.

Other cities with similar restrictions include Costa Mesa, California; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Olympia, Washington.

In addition, four cities passed laws that restricted organizations from sharing food, citing  food and safety concerns, since 2013.

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World War II veteran Arnold Abbott once again was cited by police on Wednesday for feeding homeless people on a Fort Lauderdale beach, a violation of a city law regarding the homeless.
florida, homeless, food distribution, fort lauderdale
Thursday, 13 November 2014 11:54 AM
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