Why I Support Regulating the Public Feeding of Homeless People

Several years ago in Atlanta, Georgia I met a woman living under a bridge that completely changed my life and how I viewed homeless services. You didn’t have to be a social service worker or medical professional to see that Angela was dying underneath that bridge. Meeting Angela broke my heart but it was what happened behind the scenes that changed me. I was with a group of Christians. I turned to them and I asked, “What are you doing for her? How are you helping Angela?” They responded that they were bringing her sandwiches – that’s when I realized that sandwiches are not enough. People need housing, jobs, and health services.

See, until I met Angela underneath the bridge that day, I thought that whatever you could do to help a homeless person, well, just do it. Let’s just say the level of your support was making chocolate chip cookies. If you can make cookies, then go and make cookies and then hand them out to people. I used to think that was good enough. The reason I use a chocolate chip cookie reference is because I used to know a mom and her daughter that made cookies, because that’s all they can afford. They would then go to a local homeless shelter and hand them out. And that’s the point. Instead of randomly giving away food in a park, this mother and daughter team went to the local shelter with their homemade cookies, supporting the local shelter in helping people.

I once spent two hours In Tompkins Square Park in the East Village of New York City. During those two hours, five churches came and fed the same people. I am guessing that if I stayed most the afternoon over twenty churches would have come and fed the same people that day. Interesting enough, the Bowery Rescue Mission is right around the corner. If all of those churches had taken their food to the Bowery Rescue Mission (also the same Jesus) the Bowery Rescue Mission could have saved on their food budget and spent the money saved on housing, jobs, and health services.

I realize it’s not as sexy to stand up in front of the church folk on Sunday morning saying that you “helped another organization” rather than saying “you fed the lost.” But the truth is, if churches would simply coordinate and work with other organizations, together we’d make a serious impact in fighting homelessness and getting people off the streets.

I will be point blank honest – public feedings often do more harm than good. Yes, it makes the person giving the food feel especially good, and there is merit in that; we should feel good about our charitable works. But public feedings do very little to end homelessness. In fact, in many ways public feedings maintain homelessness.

When I was producing a weekly TV show on homelessness, we were featuring a ministry that fed people under a bridge. We met a large homeless man with an established camp under a bridge to interview. The man’s name was “Bear”, and he had clearly been there for quite some time. He had a few tents and the camp layout was setup rather nicely. After I got the video gear ready and Bear’s dog to be quiet, I started to ask him questions. The optimum goal I needed was for this man to talk about how he’d go hungry if this ministry didn’t bring him food. I asked “So Bear, if Billy didn’t bring you food what would happen to you? Bear’s response shocked me. He said, “Well, the nuns bring me breakfast every day, and those guys in the warehouse over there give me a burrito at lunch.” You just had to look at Bear to see he wasn’t going hungry and now, out of his own mouth, he told us proof that we were enabling him (and others) to remain homeless.

Now please realize that I understand that there are lots of people going hungry in this great country of ours. I get that. The point that I am trying to make is that just feeding people in a park can actually hurt homeless people more than it helps them. Food is a powerful motivator. Many homeless services provide food, mail services, showers and laundry, which are touch point services so our homeless friends can visit and connect with us on a regular basis. Often we can begin to establish relationships that will help that person get out of homelessness. In addition, our homeless friends often have medical needs that go unattended. By having to connect with a homeless services agency every so often, if a homeless person is hurt, a case manager can help that person connect to needed services. Like with Bear, when people are merely given food in the park, there is little motivation for them to connect with places that can help. It’s actually OK to feed people in a park as long as you’re also taking tangible actions to help them get out of homelessness.

Restaurant Cleanliness: B Much of my work is based on the belief that homeless people should be treated like everyone else. We are all people! I can’t speak for your community, but here in Los Angeles, restaurants are graded. Often you’ll see a big ‘A’ in a window and occasionally a ‘B’. The rating lets consumers know the food is healthy and prepared using sanitary conditions. For me, it’s important that the food I buy in a grocery store is inspected. Heck, even that hotdog vendor on the street has to be licensed and inspected to sell food. But there is no regulation on public feeding to homeless people – and there should be!

Whenever a community tries to pass laws to govern or ban public feeding, all the homeless advocates come out and scream about how such a ban would be wrong. However, if they really had the best interest of everyone, they would support public feeding regulations. Seriously, it’s a heath and public safety issue! In St Louis, years ago, I heard about a few college kids going around putting feces in sandwiches and giving them out to homeless people. As sick as that is, at the time, public feeding was not regulated so there were no laws to stop such abuse. Many faith based groups receive food donations after the food is expired and cannot be legally sold. Much of the food is still fine, but churches often do not have the proper storage facilities, so the donated food quickly gets worse. If public feeding is not regulated, then anyone can feed anything to our homelessness friends. To me, that is simply unacceptable.

I have also watched churches leave public parks in a complete mess, with trash everywhere. Often times faith based groups will pull up in their vans and open the doors to feed people. The areas that the feedings take place become trashed quickly. And let’s be very real here – homeless people will congregate where there are public feedings. As a formerly homeless person and someone who has given their life to help homeless people, I don’t want to be panhandled when I am walking through a park – and neither do you! I’d honestly love to see the people who are so strongly advocating for keeping public feedings unregulated to simply invite all our homeless friends over to their house to eat. But the truth is that they don’t want our friends in their neighborhoods – just in yours!

NOW PLEASE HEAR ME! I am not asking everyone to not feed hungry people. What I am saying is that we should also coordinate with other services to form a community effort to help get people out of homelessness. The agency where I work has “guest chefs” come in every night to cook meals. It is a ‘win-win situation’ as the guest chef gets to interconnect with homeless people and also do good works , while our agency also saves the funds they would have spent on food to instead spend on helping people find housing, jobs, and health services. There are many opportunities like this where working as a team with a local homeless service provider, your donations and time could have the greatest impact.

Perhaps the biggest need for food that often goes completely overlooked is found in low income or no income people that are housed. If your church, Rotary Club, or Girl Scout Troop wants to feed people and really make a difference, connect with a local organization that is housing people. Once a person is housed, they have very little money for food. These days I have seen a huge increase of people who are not homeless that have taken up panhandling simply because they do not have enough money to get by. If a person is on disability after they pay rent, they are often left with a few hundred dollars for utilities, bus passes, clothes, food and everything else. It’s never enough and food is what’s usually skimped on. This really is probably the biggest crisis of food insecurity in the United States.

I will never agree with any law that discriminates against anyone for any reason. But when it comes to public safety, I support regulating public feedings. We all want our food healthy and inspected; well, it should be the same for our homeless friends too.

If you’re feeding people randomly in a park, I challenge you to think differently and start networking with others in your community. Your efforts should go to helping people have a better life and not inadvertently maintaining homelessness. It is fine to feed people in a park as long as you are also doing something to get them out of that park!



  • I don’t completely agree with the author’s view that
    regulating the public feeding of the homeless is necessary to ultimately help
    this population, nor do I agree that one’s level of service must be of certain
    standard, declared by the author, in order to do good.  Though I agree with points made regarding
    working more closely as a community with agencies/organizations specific to
    homeless services, to make a wider, more efficient impact on said problems, it
    does not warrant the dismissal of those offering “immediate need” service, like
    handing out a meal. They do not need to work against each other, as the author
    suggest. Of course, the bigger picture is to make this population self–sufficient, but
    regulating or banning public feeding will most likely have little to no effect
    on accomplishing this goal.

    For the author to suggest that the food servers
    are “enablers” is to suggest that lack of
    motivation is the primary enforcer of homelessness, not socioeconomic status,
    drug/alcohol addiction, mental illness, or human trafficking, none of which are
    mentioned. We need to ask our government why over 50% of the population on Los
    Angeles’ Skid Row are Veterans?  Veterans
    from WWII to Afghanistan, released from duty and forgotten.  Why are the mentally ill neglected and wandering
    the city streets?  Why has the United
    States spent billions on the “war on drugs” while the streets are littered with
    homeless addicts?

    What the author fails to recognize or give credit
    to is the idea that when individuals look into the eyes of another individual
    and hand them a meal or offer conversation we begin to humanize the problem. We
    begin to see that person not as a homeless person, but just as a person. We
    need to hear the stories, feel their journey, see the reality; we must be
    willing to get our hands dirty. This will be the motivation to do more. The problems
    of the homeless are neither new nor uncomplicated.  Just another point of view.

    Mother Teresa 
    …“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with
    great love.”

  • I don’t completely agree with the author’s view that
    regulating the public feeding of the homeless is necessary to ultimately help
    this population, nor do I agree that one’s level of service must be of certain
    standard, declared by the author, in order to do good.  Though I agree with points made regarding
    working more closely as a community with agencies/organizations specific to
    homeless services, to make a wider, more efficient impact on said problems, it
    does not warrant the dismissal of those offering “immediate need” service, like
    handing out a meal. They do not need to work against each other, as the author
    suggest. Of course, the bigger picture is to make this population self–sufficient, but
    regulating or banning public feeding will most likely have little to no effect
    on accomplishing this goal.

    For the author to suggest that the food servers
    are “enablers” is to suggest that lack of
    motivation is the primary enforcer of homelessness, not socioeconomic status,
    drug/alcohol addiction, mental illness, or human trafficking, none of which are
    mentioned. We need to ask our government why over 50% of the population on Los
    Angeles’ Skid Row are Veterans?  Veterans
    from WWII to Afghanistan, released from duty and forgotten.  Why are the mentally ill neglected and wandering
    the city streets?  Why has the United
    States spent billions on the “war on drugs” while the streets are littered with
    homeless addicts?

    What the author fails to recognize or give credit
    to is the idea that when individuals look into the eyes of another individual
    and hand them a meal or offer conversation we begin to humanize the problem. We
    begin to see that person not as a homeless person, but just as a person. We
    need to hear the stories, feel their journey, see the reality; we must be
    willing to get our hands dirty. This will be the motivation to do more. The problems
    of the homeless are neither new nor uncomplicated.  Just another point of view.

    Mother Teresa 
    …“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with
    great love.”

  • David Noel

    Kiki said it much better than I could. The word “enabler” is a mean word in some ways. Most times when this word comes up, something bad is about to happen.

  • b2blog

    Taken to a slightly more granular level, this is also a problem with pan-handling. Is the guy I hand a buck to taking in $200 a day, or $20? Is his proximity to a tourist trap a sign of cunning, or a sign of desperation? What will they use the money for? If we could donate to a group supporting him, and it would be distributed in some fair way, in your example, Mark.

  •  Hi,

    The cure for panhandling is getting people off the streets. I really don’t think about the revenue someone is making because on the average it’s very small. I mean, those that make large amounts, and I am sure there are some, and normally cons and not even homeless. The homeless people I know make very little and if they have a good day at least can get into a hotel.

    That all said, you’re right. I encourage people to donate to support services first. But there are times when I meet a person and break open my wallet.

    I have never liked the model of installing coin meters in areas. In Atlanta I heard people call them “bum meters” 

  • Isaiah 55

    Ok… so let me enlighten you my friend.
     With all due respect, yer debate: “public” feeding vs supporting feeding stations, is mostly mute to someone whose been homeless. I would like for you to consider that what you consider a hopeful nation where funds are not embezzled and horded, by over funded govt. ran community svcs, but that actually make a difference,, well, to me is like not facing the truth.  I have learned to give based on the Bible story where the savior said give to all who ask. Give because He instructed us to. I don’t need any other justification.  It’s not about my personal feelings.  It’s about obedience and gaining divine understanding of the nature of God. Acting noble in any other way doesn’t get it!  Personal giving needs to practiced and practiced until it becomes a pleasure, yep  I give for that reason alone.  I don’t necessarily care if they sleep in a park or on a bench.  I never yell at homeless man,”Get a job you bum!” or the likes. I have taken them 1 at a time and helped them  and learned from them.  Some of their experiences,, well reality is more fascinating then fiction. Please  let’s give to all who ask, and see what the Lord may impart to us,, a golden apple that never tarnishes.

  • blip_blip

    Doesn’t this article erroneously assume that given the chance, all homeless people want to re-engage with the system, and that they are just ‘down on their luck’.

    All the homeless people I’ve worked with are there because they have a great deal of trouble with fitting into the system, or getting on with other people – and a shelter or mission is just an extension of those things.

    Public feeding allows them to stay outside anyone else’s system. The help they should be getting is with mental health, but given it’s barbaric practices of ‘containment by drugging’ I don’t blame anyone for wanting to avoid it.

  • William Tarbush

    I have little confidence in public inspections or the need to get people off the streets when many don’t want to be off the streets. Panhandling isn’t cured by ending homelessess. Poverty and Panhandling go hand in hand but don’t preclude homelessness. Here, in Tucson, many panhandle around their houses but they are poor. Not homeless.

  • None

    Ah.. bullocks.  I purposely avoid giving to organizations like the Salvation Army and other “help” groups. I give directly to the homeless on the street, money, food, a beer, whatever I have. Typically what I see in these organizations is a lot of nannying, control freaking and bullying of the homeless and I do not feel that I need a middle man to distribute my alms to the poor. Good day sir. 

  • We have been working within homeless communities for over seven years now…and I know that you are one hundred percent “Right ON!” about what you are saying.


  • Terri

    You are an asshole! Saying that feeding the homeless keeps them homeless? Seriously? Have you no compassion for people? What if you were homeless by a twist of fate? Wouldn’t you want someone to offer you a meal no matter where it came from? Feelings don’t contribute to homelessness… Mental health, financial duress and other circustances does. Maybe people feed Bear but maybe Bear doesn’t have the capacity to work to feed himself. Maybe if he were your brother you’d show sympathy but you just show ignorance & judgement. Enjoy your time in hell.

  • Guest1

    I don’t think it’s appropriate or constructive to polarize the issue, as this essay seems to do (feeding vs. multi-faceted assistance through organizations). I don’t think we can focus on either as a zero-sum proposition. And why the common theme of criticism against churches? There are plenty of secular organizations that focus on feeding as well. At least the church recognizes and addresses the spiritual component of the physical condition. I’ve seen change more often occur from the inside out.

    I’m familiar with the work of The Bowery Mission and some churches. It’s not the sandwich and short burst of sustenance that’s as important as the eye contact, the conversation, the human touch, and the words spoken (and unspoken) that change is possible. I’ve seen it and I’ve participated in it. I met numerous men who said it was the eye contact, the sandwich served with a smile and the genuine interest in their lives and potential that sparked the desire to change. Many of these grassroots feeding groups get to know the people they serve, their stories, their family situation and more. Perhaps more of these grassroots and faith-based groups can combine forces with larger organizations that have the capacity to address the diverse needs of homeless men, women and families. Many churches and stand-alone organizations already do.

    I think feeding, alone, is wrong if it perpetuates dependence on sustenance apart from addressing real and lasting change. But I think feeding can play an important role…when it’s integrated with the work of organizations that offer more than meals.

    To use a cliche, we shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. I sense a tendency among some social scientists to direct great time and energy to systemic strategies to end homelessness. Some, I’m sorry to day, get caught up in their “research-based strategies” and forget about the humanity and the dignity of the individuals they’re purporting to help. They call them “outputs” that aggregate to population-wide outcomes when particular resources are inserted at points in their developmental path. I find that de-humanizing.

    Offering regular soup and sandwiches at a feeding program that treats the homeless as individuals — but doesn’t address the deeper condition and the numerous contributing factors to homelessness, or offer a path to restoration, is JUST AS WRONG. Strategic organizations and grassroots efforts need to combine forces. Many of them do. I’m not aware of programs that parachute into an area to feed the homeless and then pick up and leave leave.That’s not right. But churches have been on the forefront of social justice, care and healing for ages. I hope we can encourage this type of work and perhaps begin some new forms of partnership. The problem is so complex and entrenched that solutiona are going to require collective effort.

  • PRAXIS#313

    Thanks for another perspective. I’ll keep feeding people I see on the roadside but now I’ll collaborate with existing organizations. Peace and success to us all.

  • In a quantry

    So last week a homeless man was sitting in front of my grocery store with a red suitcase, saying he had just run out of food stamps, and asking for help. It was in fact the end of the month. So I gave him $5.00. Now, six days later and the 3rd of the month, he’s sitting in front of another store in the same strip mall, begging me again. I feel really guilty because I just lost it. I am 67 years old and still working full time and have been working for 43 years. So, I said to him “I just gave you $5.00 don’t you remember?” and he said “Well, I’m still homeless.” And I said “I’m still working at the ripe old age of 67” thinking but not saying “why don’t you try it.” He was approximately 40, dirty and fat. Why do I feel guilty? But for the grace of God go I. But just looking at him doing absolutely nothing to help himself, I got terribly angry. What has our society come to?

  • Jennifer Nodine

    I don’t think the author polarized anything. While I hate hearing that the lawmakers are making charity a crime & interfering with volunteers who are trying to provide free assistance to people in need, I understand that there are some underlying reasons that are worth consideration & discussion. First, I think it’s somewhat presumptuous & condescending for people of privilege to show up and play “petting zoo” with other, less fortunate people. And there’s also a safety issue here that isn’t being discussed. It’s scary to think that any sicko can just head downtown w/ a cooler full of tainted food & wipe out the homeless population in one shot, anonymously. Or that someone with good intentions can do the same thing accidentally by being unaware of safe food handling practices. Besides, being charitable is about much more than feeling warm and fuzzy for a good deed while you drive back to the safety & comfort of your home. It’s about really doing for someone what you’d do for a good friend who needs help. Building interpersonal relationships within the community could be a big springboard for the homeless who became socially isolated at some point for one reason or another. We also should stop assuming that every homeless person yearns to find a place to live inside four walls. Not all of them do. Instead of everyone deciding what’s best for this segment of the population, why don’t we communicate with each of them personally and assist them in defining & achieving their own goals? We all know the saying about the value of teaching a man a fish instead of just giving him one. It’s not so complicated, really.

  • Streetwyze Religion

    There is really only one thing that is going to put a dent in the current problem: Jobs. Daily, paying work available to anyone who wants it. Unfortunately, no one seems to want to hear that. Apparently giving people regular, paying work without strings attached or making them jump through hoops is against some unspoken law in this country. You cannot feed this problem away. We have shelters, food stamps and free clinics, but that doesn’t address the need for an income. No one is going to get on their feet without an income. Stop asking for resumes. Many of these people don’t have solid work histories or references. I’ll say it one more time : Daily, paying work for anyone who wants it. That is the most important ingredient and it is missing in most areas of this country.

  • Streetwyze Religion

    Did you try offering him a job?

  • Steven Skelton

    You just seem like a control freak to me. You want to control the homeless people with food. If they don’t do what you want, then they don’t get their food.

  • Colorado’s Homeless

    If you looked further into this blog, you would know that this man has dedicated his life to helping the homeless. By a “twist of fate” he was indeed homeless and now is more or less voicing the truths of homeless people of the nation. I don’t believe he was trying to insult anyone or force a view or judgement on anyone. I see you have, like countless other commenters, jumped to a conclusion based on the way you have read and analyzed this posting. In the future if you want to provide feedback that someone will listen to and accept its helps to avoid insulting the writer, and damning them.
    Read the warning at the top of every page.

  • Angela Carlson

    I am ten. This year for Christmas my family has very little money so we won’t be getting very many presents. I’ve made a decision that I’m going to go to a homeless shelter and give half of my clothes, toys, and food to the people there

  • Angela,

    Your comment touched my heart. THANK YOU! You are AWESOME!

  • A question: how do you know he was ‘doing absolutely nothing to help himself’? Based on your comment, I don’t think you shadowed him for six days, but perhaps there’s something else I’m missing.

    Also: you do realize $5 doesn’t even buy a full meal at McDonald’s, right? Food stamps are not distributed on the same date for all people. Perhaps his re-up date is the middle of the month. A homeless person can’t buy groceries – they have no place to store them. Furthermore, the SNAP program doesn’t allow recipients to buy hot foods (or many other prepared foods). So homeless folks have to buy things like chips, Lunchables, and other packaged, non-perishable goods. This makes it a LOT harder to stretch food stamps over the month.

    Like Streetwyze said, if you’re truly concerned about how unfair it is for you to be 67 & working, while a ‘dirty and fat’ 40 year-old begs you for $5, try letting go of shaming the man & help him get a job. Of course, you might want to also let him use your address because he can’t get his job paperwork done without one. Then there’s also the matter of helping him with showers, work clothes, and a place to store his things while he’s at work… What role(s) are you willing to play in this matter?

  • Your ten? Angela. Huh, please I wish those whom think they know, regardless of free will, 1st amendment, because they can, would not speak – what they don’t know; they disrespect other’s and more so disrespect themselves; but hey, if they can like with themselves, so be it then. Ugh!

  • Davis Rivas

    That’s the point. If I don’t get a job, I can’t pay my bills. Oh wait, I can just sit home, stay on welfare, and let other people support me instead. There is a difference between enabling and helping. There is a reason why the liberal state of CA has an exploding homeless and welfare population in recent years.

  • Davis Rivas

    How are you gonna get everyone jobs when CA is overflow with low skill illegals. Population increases faster than job creation, thanks to the generous welfare system that enable people to have tons of kids they can’t afford. In CA, welfare pays better than minimum wage, so why would anyone want to work.

  • Davis Rivas

    He was doing something alright. He was begging. That was his job, LoL. Pan-handing is a very lucrative business.

  • Davis Rivas

    Did you even read the blog? And yes, feeding homeless does keep them homeless. You don’t see the homeless population decreased do you? In fact, homeless and welfare population have exploded over the years. So, whatever God work you think you are doing, it’s NOT working.

  • Earl

    Hello Everyone

    I am curious to know what your opinion of this video.


  • Carbide


  • Giggly-goo-gitty

    You. >>

  • Lucky

    I think most people overlook the reason these people became homeless in the first place. The disposable employee model of modern corporate business. It is the biggest disease and cancer on America to ever exist. Here is a better thought. Lets make these businesses who fired these people so willy-nilly foot the bill for their care. Maybe then we would have real jobs back in America rather than these scam jobs we have now. Work in America has become cut throat scam artistry.

  • Cris1982

    I am one of the many people that feeds the homeless. If I see a person with a sign asking for money, I don’t give them money instead I buy them something to drink or something to eat. A lot of the homeless people are homeless because their own families don’t help them and didn’t help them. When your own family doesn’t care for you, that messes you up mentally and emotionally. For some of them it’s hard to trust that a stranger or strangers can help them get back on their feet when their own family members didn’t try to do anything for them. It’s not that they don’t want the help or that they like being homeless because they know someone is going to feed them. They are depressed! They’ve given up on the life they once had, the life they use to know. They feel worthless!
    They don’t have cars, money or cell phones to get to homeless shelters. Where I live the shelters that are around are all first come first serve. They can only eat dinner, shower if they like and go to bed. As soon as it’s daylight and 7:00am, they have to be out of there until the night comes again. The only place they feel they can hang out at is the park or under a bridge. Why the park? Because they can use the restroom or drink water from the faucets. For some of them these shelters or homes are too far to be walking to back and forth everyday. That’s why they find a spot under a bridge or at the park and make it their home. There is also a waiting list for housing. It’s not easy for them to live on the street they just make the most out of what they have, and what do they have?… Nothing!
    My boyfriend was homeless. He was living the street life. Slept behind a dumpster of a circle k. He was laid off work and at that time he was renting the back house of his parents home. Well he was told if he wasn’t working within 2 weeks he had to move out. Those 2 weeks came, still unemployed and he got kicked out. He was living in his car but since he had no income, he couldn’t make his car payments and the finance company had to repo his car. Now he was really on the street. His mom gave him a cell phone the day he got kicked out and told him she would continue paying it because she wanted to make sure he wasn’t dead in a ditch somewhere!! Who says that!?! Anyways… He went into a really bad depression, none of his family members offered him help and he was to the point of committing suicide because of how unloved and alone he felt from his family’s neglect.
    I knew him from high school and at the time that he was going through this we weren’t talking or had any communication. I saw him as I drove up to the circle k parking lot and recognized him.. He was embarrassed and didn’t want to look at me but I told him get your stuff and get in my car. I am not leaving you here. I offered my home to him and told him he had somewhere to stay until he could get on his feet again. He was on the street for a good 3 yrs. It took a while but he got back on his feet and mentally he was pretty messed up. But I helped him out as much as I could. I did it all with good intentions and with my heart. He is now working and has a car again, paid off 🙂 And of course we ended up having feelings for eachother. 3 1/2 yrs later and after the 3yrs of being homeless for him, we are still together. He tells me all the time that I saved his life.
    He said it was the scariest thing of his life to have to go through that. Not knowing where you are going to sleep? Not knowing when is the next time you are going to eat? Where are you going to go to the bathroom? Not knowing if some crazy person will come out of nowhere and kill you? And he says he’s very thankful for all the people that would give him something to eat or drink because if it wasn’t for the kindness of those people he probably would of starved to death.
    And I’m sorry but through out the whole summary I read, it does not sound like you were homeless. If it were that easy for homeless people to go to the shelters and get housing, there wouldn’t be so many homeless people.
    Your life can change in an instant and you can go from having a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food in your belly to having nothing at all. Maybe even ending up at a park because you don’t know where else to go….
    The most humble people don’t have a lot but they do have big hearts. Those humble people with big hearts are the ones you see at parks feeding the homeless. They are the ones that appreciate every day of their lives because even if they don’t have much, they are thankful they have somewhere to call home and food to eat and enough to be able to help and make another meal for another life.
    I apologize that it was so long..

  • Socialworker911

    Thank you for this article. As a former inner city social worker, I completely agree, having seen it all daily, first hand. Your story abut Bear- I could easily name 50 others I worked with in the exact same position.

  • Lisa

    I think you are being to harsh on this man and not looking at what he said and what he already does. He stated that he is 67 years old and has worked for 43 years. The homeless person he speaks of said he gets welfare……you asked “what roles(s) are you willing to play in this matter?” First, he gave him $5.00, that was nice, second I will assume that because he works, he pays taxes, his taxes in theory pay the welfare system…….now add those taxes up over 43 years of working and it looks like a lot more than $5.00 to me.

    The real need is not those already being paid by the system, it is those that are not getting assistance (welfare).

  • Help a Homless person

    Please Donate to a homeless man that really need your help. Every dollar counts and just please donate what you can.. please Read the story!! I’ve been working countless hours to raise money. Please donate and spread the word!! GOD BLESS YOU ALL!! #helpthehomeless #needshelp #MakeADifference http://t.co/N8kdtcC3uH

  • Christy

    So I am very glad that you wrote this blog or article, I’m not sure which it is or if that even matters. My husband and I have recently had an interesting couple of experiences with this issue. It was so much in my face that I do want to do something that not only makes a difference on my local community level but, if it was successful, has a way to be duplicated elsewhere. I do have a concept that involves getting food to those who need by way of commercial food prep that would eliminate your health concern. However what it does not address is your point with regard to the circle of homelessness being broken by creating jobs or access to healthcare. Anyhow thank you for giving me something to think about.

  • Sandra Germaine

    Terri, do you know how to read an article TO THE END? Guess not.

  • Sandra Germaine

    What are you doing to help the homeless find jobs? Must be nice to see in that ivory tower of yours.

  • You mean the part of the ‘tower’ where I’m in a transitional living program, three days a week helping 16 young men get & maintain jobs, build life skills, and perform well in school? Or the part where I work with homeless and unstably housed youth to really get to what THEY see as barriers to their success?

  • Shhhh

    Okay so you’re the guy who’s going to bomb abortion clinics in the name of God huh? I’m sure that this is exactly what Jesus would have said in response to a man doing good. All you’re doing is bringing people down, so save your breath for all the screaming at your next book-burning, “christian”.

  • Moe

    You are a jerk off. You don’t know this man or his circumstances. I haven’t worked for two years (Im 44) but I suffer a number of disabilities, many of which are unseen, and I worked for as long as I could. I invested in a long term disability policy a long time ago before my unseen disability got the best of me so I’m not receiving government benefits although I could. I am also fortunate enough to have a wife who, like me, has a master’s degree and a job that pays well. Begging is lucrative, really? Does begging offer insurance and a retirement plan? Do you know if this man has an unseen medical condition? Begging is lucrative? Try it and see how like standing on the side of a road in humiliation begging for help you self righteous jerk.

  • Bradley Ryan Kendrick

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    Post by Bradley Ryan Kendrick.

  • Crusty Gronk

    What a brainless load of drivel this article is. Yes, it is sad we don’t live in a perfect world. Sure, individual churches should find a place where they’re not competing to feed the same group of people. And sure, if everyone got together and pooled their resources they might house a few people, or pay for a few to see Drs. But wake up to the reality, it’s not happing, not now or in the near future. Mean while these people need to be feed, and that is the one thing they do need in order to survive, long enough to get back on their feet. As for food handling? Do you realise how many homeless people eat out of bins and dumpsters? And you’re worried about a few dirty hands? These people don’t go wash their hands before they eat at the best of times pal. Has anyone done a study on the cases of food poisoning at these free food stations? I bet it’s lower than at many restaurants.

    Pooling resource might sound like the answer to you, but you have no clue. A charity here where I live claims for $99 a day they can supply a bed and a meal for one person. That’s almost $700 a week. Social security and old age pension pays no-where near that much, and yet people survive on it. I’ve had to live on $250 a week in a 2 bedroom unit, run my own vehicle. Payed my gas and electricity on time, not to mention I had a 20 year old daughter living at home with me. So, pool your resources? Sure, and have the charity takes MORE THAN HALF in administration costs? Wake up to the real world pal. I can supply close to 500 meals with $700, and a charity wants $700 to feed one man for a week—plus a bed. I’m sorry, but if your hungry, a meal is more important than a bed. No one dies for lack of a bed. They do, however, die from lack of a meal.

    I can feed a person for a few dollars a day. Where the heck do you suggest I get enough money or resources to train them, house them, sort out their emotional, physical and or psychological issue and then find them work? All this, while they are dying of starvation? people like you are the cause of the problem. My prayer is that for a year or two you get to live homeless and pennyless. See how much a sandwich means to you then. And as for the lady dying under the bridge—what the heck kind of help would a job be to her?

    As for community effort! That’s a laugh! Do you know how many people are willing to help out? It’s the same 3 or 4 people night after night. Community—yeah, right!

    I’ll continue to feed the homeless while I wait for brain-dead thoughtless arses like you, to find them jobs and houses. Or would you prefer they starve while you fix the real issue?

  • Crusty Gronk

    So, feed the ones that have a home? Drive all over the city, quadrupling the coast of a meal so that people in homes can get feed. let those that have homes get themselves to the place free food can be found. Just like the homeless do. I’ve seen men and women walk for hours to a place they can get a meal. How ridicules to suggest you drive your food all over the city! Will you pay the fuel bill?

  • Leslie Sox

    Cris1982, this was a touching story. The one point you brought up is that often people are homeless because their family, friends and often past coworkers won’t help them. It’s like they say, no man is an island and people don’t realize how much they depend on their social networks for survival and support. When you lose that social support from loved one you are in a very fragile situation.

  • Michelle Mimi

    I agree! But some of these so call churches helping, cut it help them keep their donations coming. But they also use what are given to them, to give to the homeless, to control most. And it’s like u get junk, but u volunteer, u get the best. Common sense let u know, u don’t give them, raw meat, sheets, radios, etc., things like that to someone living on the street.
    Noone want the responsibility of stepping out and doing the rite thing. It’s all about control. U say jump, I say, how high.
    I speak from experience. I was homeless, up until 7-8 months ago. ( thank god) I see what they did and are still doing, not I wish I had someone backing me up, cut I would show them and put into motion what can be done to help the homeless. My heart goes out to them all. I have a 23 yr. Old homeless here in florida, beaux they are misleading the women and the women with children. They gave her a 9 month period, now they giving her til some time this month8/13/14, will be her exit date. Now she can’t focus on helping her situation get better. Now she got to spend time finding, we’re are her and her 5yr. Old child going.
    As a mom, I would love to take her in. But, I’m in a housing program setting, we’re there are no children allowed or not a setting for. So, I don’t know what to tell her or what to do.

  • Michelle Mimi

    I was out there for a a Lil over a year. I seen and I was one of the ones who done everything. But once I did all I can do to help get funds. They one day told me, they was not going to be able to help me any more.
    That was after I just got funds for me to be paid up 2 weeks.but never a solution to how I can better my situation. One lady , and she know who she is, step in an help me and told me not to let her down.
    I was just a victim of circumstance’s…… Yes, I have many stories that need to be told, because it might just help the next person.
    I was trying to help, cut they was their to help us. But what ever I found out, I start becoming the voice for most the homeless. But financially, I can’t help. Even if I can get started in a nun profit oragnization, for the homeless. Where they can get the correct info to help their situation and feed their souls, (as I love to cook) and some where I can take them off the street. I feel I see u don’t really want help. I feed u, clothe u, and give you some where to show. But I will not let anyone just take up space to just lay not do nothing. Not for me, but for yourself.
    They need more pal , like myself, to have real love and compassion for the homeless. Everyone has a different story and need to be judge as their own situation now not someone else. We may have been homeless together, don’t mean we share the same reason , why you or I are homeless.
    If any one can help me in this situation, would be greatly appreciated.
    I want or need nothing from the homeless. I truly what to help them.

  • Help the Homeless

    I moved to California a year ago from Texas and I have never seen so many homeless people. I am trying to get a non-profit going so that I can take donations to help the homeless. I would like to put together bags filled with toothpaste, toothbrush, bar of soap or wipes so that they can clean up, clothes and blankets to pass out, some cans of food and plastic ware, comb or brush. Homeless people need to feel like they are loved and need help. In California there is not enough shelters, no places to take a shower and most places have signs that you cannot use the restroom unless you are a paying customer. An order of French fries is 4.00. I feel horrible that our country has come to.

  • strong family

    Iv looked all over I have my wife daughter and a new born grandson and I we are trying to get back home to parkersburg wv and we r stranded in texas we live in a storage unit if u or you no any one that can help us plz email me my name is Joshua my email is [email protected] thank you and god bless you all:-)

  • Frederick Davis

    Dude, you’re just promoting your opinion of how you feel about this situation without actually getting any feedback from the masses of homeless/hungry people here in Los Angeles. I’m an LA native, I’ve never even been to New York and from all the bad press
    I hear about that place, I’d probably never go there. I’ve been all over this country when I worked as a trucker but now I’m back in LA and I’ve been there homeless and hungry.

    If you’ve never been homeless, you’ll never understand what they go through, first hand experience always trumps interviewing people on the street. There is some validity to what you say, I’ve been to places where the iceberg lettuce was yellow and they served it anyway, but your idea of networking is not going to solve anything because whenever you get people together this way, they will always abuse the situation.

    I currently live in south LA and there are these churches that give out groceries, even some of these churches are abusing the homeless/hungry by taking the good food for themselves and giving the borderline spoiled food to the homeless/hungry or keeping the meats and giving away the canned foods which have so much sodium in them for extended shelf life that they are not healthy to consume on any regular basis. I do think there should be regulation of some sort, maybe outlaw public feedings unless the people doing the feeding are part of a 501(c) organization like one of my friends does. He cooks the food himself, gets some friends to help serve the homeless on weekends and holidays.

  • MJL

    Help when you can, however you can. Regulating how people choose to volunteer and/or help those in need is not only ridiculous but insulting to those of us with empathy and compassion for fellow human beings. Regulation just prevented my parish from making food for homeless vets that we’ve done for years. Many were helped by job opps and housing help over that time. Now we can’t bring homemade food because of insurance reasons. According to this article, my parish did everything right…but we still are shut out. Which leads me back to: help when you can, however you can. mjl in Chicago

  • CR

    What a great story. As a person who is in Law Enforcement and currently working with the addicted, mentally-ill homeless population in Canada, I can tell you many of stories of how giving the homeless food is just as bad as giving them money. It has been well documented that giving them money will go to drugs and or alcohol but lets look at the food issue. As the story indicates hunger is a great motivator. If you give them food instead of money, they no longer need to spend their money on food. I have a client who we have found him housing and qualified him for income support of $1500 a month. His housing cost him $1000, which includes 3 meals a day, bedding and laudry services. Despite this opportunity and a host of support services, police are still finding him in the hallways of building sleeping. Why? Because he chooses to continually pan handle so he can drink to the point of passing out. When police encounter known homeless intoxicated/high persons, we usually find in their possessions (shopping carts) numerous packages of food; typically restaurant take out. I also speak from personal experience as I have had two brother that have been what you could describe as street people. One brother was a bottle picker. He was not addicted to alcohol or drugs but was on more than one occasion homeless. The bottle picker brother eventually got sick from collecting his bottles and decided that things needed to change. He decided to help him self and did reach out to someone he trusted, currently has a full time job and his own apartment. The other brother was not really homeless as he would use shelters and couch surf but he did beg. The brother would tell he could get up to $100 in a few hours which feed his Meth habit. He now gets income support but still panhandles to support his habit. He currently has a regular place to live (thanks to an end homeless campaign) and does not typically run into my fellow officers. Not the greatest success story but the supports did help him from going to shelter to shelter. If people make it easy for the homeless by giving them food and/or money they will not take the steps they need to better their lives. I am not a Christian but the saying “give a man fish and he eats for a day … teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime. There are a lot of good and well meaning social networks that are out there for the homeless to tap into. We need to give these networks our support and time. Let them get organized and efficient. If everyone keeps feeding the homeless it will not address the underlying issues such as addictions, mental health and homelessness.

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  • Arno

    A journalist in France lived for a year on the streets with the homeless. He found that about 80% of homeless people were suffering from mental illnesses and they simply refused to live in shelters provided by the community or take up a job. Your liberal fantasy that throwing money on any problem is the solution is just ignorant or lazy.

  • rox mclaughlin

    soooo its okay to control the drug additcs by supplying them with legal drugs…. but its wrong to supply homeless with food? faaaack youuu

  • Blane Bizzaro

    Thank you for making this excellent point! No one is saying “don’t feed the hungry”, they are saying that people who give away food in public should be subject to the same safety standards as people who sell food in public.

  • manuel

    im sorry to be that person but bullshit u are neither 10 nor would you do such a thing and even if u did u should do it for these poor souls and not for little fame on a stupid ass webpage not offending just saying

  • OhTheWorldOwesUsALivin

    This attitude sort of reminds me of when Judas asked Jesus why the lady didn’t sell her spikenard so that she could give it to the poor.

    I agree that we shouldn’t look to start new ministries, especially if a ministry/shelter is already meeting those needs, but I live in an area where there aren’t homeless shelters, and sometimes the Holy Spirit just wants me to obey. That food isn’t meant to be their only form of support, where that is all they depend on, it’s meant to help them get through the day and show a little compassion towards them. I’m not going to feel guilty for providing something to people that I would eat myself, simply because I didn’t do it in an organized manner. That’s slightly ludicrous.

  • citic101

    hello ………… I went to feed the homeless people tonight in Nice france ( first time ) and i asked the organizer why she was feeding the people , she said there was no other society ( red cross / oxfam etc ) who would feed them on saturday /sunday and tuesday ! , we gave them spaghetti bolognaise ( didnt look very good ) the homeless didnt look very hungry , we did give them toothpaste and t shirts …………. i did wonder if we were doing the right thing ? I said ” arent there any shelters ” one women said they didnt like to go because they get they belongings stolen , i do wonder if i should go back next week

  • Dean

    Generally bogus bullsh*t! You need to rethink this ~

  • Elaine

    Many whose families don’t help them is because the families have tried over and over. Drug addicts have stolen and lied and refused to get help…..therefore the only choice left is to let the addict hit rock bottom.

  • William A Finch

    Every year for the last four years, instead of buying gifts for each other, we go buy food, and whatever we can for the homeless shelter and with what’s left over we buy blankets, travel size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, razors, soap, lotion, small sewing kits, etc. It’s all important and all needed. I said the first year, there is nothing we NEED, lets do something for people that are in need. I see anyone on a street corner, or waiting near a fastfood place, or near the grocery store. They ask me for anything to eat. They get it. I can not and will not tell them no. If I can eat they will eat. We did the same for Christmas last year. We saw a homeless couple sleeping on the porch of an abandoned house. I went home, made them the food we were going to have for Christmas dinner, we took it back to them, with extra things they may need. Yes, we knew they were drinking, does not matter. Alcoholics need food too. Until you’ve been in their shoes, don’t judge them. One or two hard turns in my life or yours, that could be you..or me.

  • William A Finch

    No you don’t, and in this economy, it WILL only increase, haven’t you noticed that?

  • William A Finch

    Yea, his “food stamps” are probably $15.00 a month. I’m sure he can buy LOADS of groceries for that. Genius.

  • William A Finch

    And how long have you been mentally ill and homeless?

  • I love your response to “In a quantry,” thank you

  • Right to the point, you are

  • Let’s link up. My Facebook group Drop Yo Selfie has evolved into a platform where you drop yo selfie for social change, and we have declared to feed 1,000,000 homeless, hungry people Thanksgiving 2015. http://www.facebook.com/groups/dropyourselfie.
    [email protected]. Subject line #DYSChallenge

  • CHelle

    well played, i was in the midst of researching regulation for giving food to the homeless and the stipulations to do so , after reading I see the point. thats not enough., Recovery , stability and jobs are the issues. Back to the drawing board.

  • “go, I heard about a few college kids going around putting feces in sandwiches and giving them out to homelessI will be point blank honest – public feedings often do more harm than good. Yes, it makes the person giving the food feel especially good, and there is merit in that; we should feel good about our charitable works. But public feedings do very little to end homelessness. In fact, in many ways public feedings maintain homelessness.”

    Are you outta of your mind? Most that want to feed the homeless aren’t looking for them to have an apartment the next day. …they simply are giving them a smile, a conversation and simple meal or treat! They are humans just like us as you pointed out and don’t you like the same?, A smile from someone and conversation or a meal with friends and family?!

    We are by far “maintaining” homelessness as you state, we are lessening the hardship in it…

    Some homeless is a choice and some is not. Some don’t have the mental capacity to maintain households and all it entails.

    You suggest partnering, have you tried this?! Most small towns make it difficult for new volunteers to come in. You need to know people so your picture looks pretty in the newspaper on those holidays the shelters are advertised

    I hope you don’t have many who support your ignorance! Go bake a cookie and make someone smile!

  • Agreed as you can see my comment. What a boob!

  • sara house

    i actually was in awww how people could say it is more harm than good to do public feedings, until yestetrday 12-27-15 my son ,husband and my sons girlfriend all went down to Hurt Park in downttown Atlanta to feed the homeless! my god the mess everywhere was awful,the attitudes and ungratefulness of most the people was sad,and there was at least 6 other trucks that pulled up with food i mean these people are definetley not starving! and you could tell by the way they were some who were picky about what they wanted to eat that they are spoiled in the aspect of being fed by do gooders. so i totally agree with your article i had to see for myself yesterday that what i read about whats going on at HURT PARK is true and im sure it is the same in many places as well….ill never do a public feeding again like that unless it is like a cookout with some sort of organization to sign them up for a work or housing program or something. what hurt me though was the babies and children who were out there and that quite a few were very clearly mentally disturbed. those are the one who need the help the most i think, those children didnt ask or make any choices to end up living outside sadly. but i agree with this article for sure since i went out and experienced this myself, and i say all this as a woman who has been homeless in many cities many times.

  • sara house

    very true

  • sara house

    good points…and ther were a few out there i met while doing a public feeding who were actually working part time jobs but couldnt afford housing….thats another issue in our country the costs of rent can be very ridiculous

  • sara house

    i think what she means is what i experienced yesterday when i went downtown and fed the homeless myself, there are so many people coming to certainparks and places at once and they are defineltley not hungry there is so much food that they cant even eat it all n they hide it in bushes and stuff for later and then someone else comes along and feeds and so on and the hidden food just rots and there is trash everywhere! like Hurt Park in atlanta the students at georgia state university pay good money to go to school there but as soon as they walk outside they are surrounded in trash and people begging for money and rotten food all over the place, i felt the same way almost as what you said until i went out yestetrday and fed the people myself so you go and spend $500 on food and go feed them and THEN call someone an asshole and stupid, cuz I promise you if you actually go and see and exprerince this yourself you will see the light

  • sara house

    me too ill get with an organization next time i go out to feed

  • sara house

    oh laaawd here goes the 1st nutjob lunatic lol i swear it kills me how ppl call themself a christian but wana kill and castrate anyone who is not a christian kike them lmao!!!!….but then again back in ancuient rome thats how christians did, they slaughtered all who were not a christian so i guess this guy is a TRUE christian in the ancient sense lmfao…dude gtfoh and grow up why dont ya!

  • Kat

    I am sad to read your attempt to intellectualize making helping oeople illegal. There are better ways to help than refuse. I think you sum it up when you say that it is not sanitary. It seems to boil fown to you not liking the look of them or seeing them. Please dont pretend it is anything else, as that is the disservice.

  • Bel

    The cost of rent is only the beginning. Often a large deposit is required, an application with references, phone numbers and work history PLUS a drivers license and other forms of ID. Folks on the street do not have these things. A renter looks at the applicant and figures they are high risk and doubles the deposit. It is a vicious cycle and no wonder the homeless stops trying and falls into deeper depression. I do not have an answer, I wish I did.

  • Timmy Newton

    It is nice that you want to help people, but only give food to someone who asks for food. When I was on the streets there was nothing worse than someone shaming me and imposing their values on me. I often really wanted money to pay for drugs and alcohol so that I would not feel so bad. If you do not understand this, good! Hopefully you will never have to understand. Imagine you had a terrible headache, which you have always treated with acetaminophen, and said, “I need medicine”. How would you feel if, instead of giving you the resource to choose the medicine you need, someone arbitrarily decided to treat you by giving you an antacid?

  • Mike Hanson

    I have been homeless for many years and I want you to know that the homeless should be jailed for being this way. I mean that I don’t care what caused a person to be this way, we the homeless should be rounded up and sent to detention camps for public safety concerns. Homeless shelters are more expensive than giving one of us a room, and constantly running us through the legal system for quality of life violations. Labor camps would be a more cost effective way of dealing with us. I’m surprised that there aren’t more draconian laws to deal with us. Once it becomes acceptable to lock us homeless away, then the government will have an easier time locking up people that have the potential to be homeless.
    Arbeit macht frei


    Your statement was very ignorant and a waste of time. If it’s such a big problem feeding the homeless, and you’re more worried about a freaking park being trashed vs ppl who sleep outside and consistently worry about where their next Neal will come from, maybe you’re the problem. Grab some trash bags and helpers to police it up.


    He shouldn’t have even gave a stupid opinion. His story isn’t the same as everyone else’s.


    Speak to the city of Atlanta who do nothing, not those who take time out of their lives to help those whether it be food or money. All of a sudden, feeding homeless ppl the same type of food that you eat on a day to day basis is unhealthy!??! What a stupid post!


    What have you done?

  • chris

    After reading this I agree and some of the comments I read it is not that easy even if there were all the programs and good jobs u can find the homeless some just don’t want to change and find life easier when things are handed to them family’s have tryed to help there love ones just like strangers do but its not enough still they choose to make there own choices and the people they hire to help the homeless and welfare that supposably are there to help people are so mean and can care less but about there pay check and that’s the truth seen it myself they can care less when people finally get the courage to get help and change they run into these idiots they hired to help them but turn them away

  • chris

    And the food part I never get sick eating at home but yet when I go into these star restraunts that claim to be clean are infested still serve people and we get sick or food poisoning? Yet u want to have people stop feeding the homeless cause they don’t have a piece of paper saying there certified like a restraunt yea sanitary conditions my ass

  • Kimberly Savino

    Chris1982, I agree completely with what you have written, and am so glad that your boyfriend is better. Angela Carson, keep doing what you’re doing. If more were like you, the world would be a much better place! While I do understand and agree with the original poster, in terms of food “not being enough”, s/he is expressing a somewhat idealistic concept here, which I do not see as a viable solution to the problem anytime soon. Here’s why:

    Homelessness is a multi-faceted problem, and no two cases are alike. The public, and sometimes even outreach workers, tend to oversimplify these situations. Many have never experienced it personally…and if they have, it’s great that they had the skills and resources to climb out of it – but many do not. Homelessness can happen to anyone, if the conditions are right, for all sorts of reasons. We all know that factors such as substance abuse and mental illness can play a major part. Domestic abuse is another. Unfortunately, these conditions can also make it extremely difficult for many to recruit, receive, and benefit from assistance – IF it’s even available. I’m not sure where the original poster lives and works, but in the states I’ve lived in, there aren’t enough services and workers available to meet the needs of the homeless, hungry, ill, and addicted – even if they all were receptive. I have several friends who are social workers, and they all report the same findings.

    I agree that food can be a powerful motivator – but people who are starving to death are going to have increased difficulty with mental cognition (including planning and sound decision-making), electrolyte and nutritional imbalances that also affect mental function and behavior, and they will experience a decline in both strength and physical health over time. People can live without housing and jobs, but they can’t live without food, clean water, and protection from the elements.

    We need to attack the problem at its foundation, while understanding that it will NEVER be solved in our lifetimes. We can hope that it will be reduced significantly, but even that won’t happen if the government and our leaders aren’t actively on board. If the underlying issues aren’t addressed and worked with, such as treating mental illness (which can take a LONG time, even for people living in stable homes – it will take even longer for homeless folks with little support), treating addiction (not by arrests, but by treatment centers – which are very expensive, and overfilled as is – and regression is very common), family problems, abuse, lack of education, etc – you aren’t going to truly end homelessness and hunger.

    So, I’d like to ask the original poster: What’s the alternative – Letting the homeless rely on soup kitchens and shelters which may turn them away, leaving them to resort to public begging, stealing, and other crimes out of desperation? (You do realize that many do commit minor crimes just to go back to jail, so that they have a place to stay with three daily meals, don’t you?) Or do we just let them die, and step over their corpses on our way to work and school?

    You see, I do have personal experience. I live in a large home that I built and designed in a nice area, have college education, have owned a business, and have a wonderful support network. I also have over two decades of volunteer experience, including nonprofit org management. However, I was caught in a very strange, complex situation involving legal issues and governmental abuse, following my escape from a domestic violence situation when I lived out of state temporarily. I got to experience homelessness myself for a brief time twice, and almost died from being starved and dehydrated intentionally. Please trust me – It’s not a pleasant way to go, and can nearly drive you to madness, especially the dehydration part. Since I have significant medical problems, it affected me quickly and profoundly. A lot of homeless and hungry folks are a lot more dehydrated than they realize, and this can cause significant effects in their bodies and minds.

    I managed to keep my wits about me, and vowed that if I survived, I would do everything I could to improve the situation in that area… but that would take some time, and necessitated lawsuits against the perpetrators (which began last summer), to try to encourage positive change by this example. In the meantime, I vowed I would not turn my back on people who are starving, homeless or suffering, wherever they were. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. I darn sure can’t solve the problem alone, but I can help some people I encounter get through the nights. I am eternally grateful to the people who helped me get through when I needed them most. I have to tell you, they weren’t officials or outreach workers. They were other people who had been there, and understood what it’s like to feel the life slowly draining from their bodies.

    I remember being at my weakest, staring up at the flag, and realizing that this isn’t how life in America is supposed to be. True, many people did make poor choices, but they didn’t ask to be starving or living on the street. Many want to change, but don’t know how. I can’t change the decline, greed, and apathy present in our country, but at least I can know that I’m actively working to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Ignoring a homeless or hungry person’s quiet suffering and impending death accomplishes nothing. You can’t draw blood from a stone, and people who are weak, sick and tired aren’t going to be able to get themselves together in that state, period – even if resources are available.

    I don’t mean to burst anyone’s bubble here, but this is reality, as much as we’d like to deny it. It’s happening all over the US, every single day. I also appreciate the “teach a man to fish” concept, and it can be successful, esp when reaching the younger people, or those who are new to being homeless. I’ve also helped people to get jobs and back on their feet..It’s great to help people to empower themselves. However, for the ones who have been living on the street for years, it’s a much more difficult, complicated, expensive process – and if they’re seriously ill with mental illness, disability, or substance abuse, it’s not going to be solved anytime soon. If the original poster lives in a place where there are not only enough services for people in need, but also, enough workers to help everyone who wants it, please let me know where this is – I want to learn how they’re doing it, because I’ve never seen it before, anywhere.

    I bring people food and supplies, and will keep doing so. If the laws change and try to stop me, I’ll work with my lawyer friends to figure out another way to do it so it’s not illegal. Some of these people can barely sit upright. I know the food and toiletries aren’t going to save them..and I’m not trying to. If they don’t want to save themselves, no one else can reach them. A good starting point to motivate people to want to save themselves is to provide them with the sustanance they need to be able to think straight, and also, to show them that someone cares. It won’t help them all, but it will help some. If all else fails, at least it will help them get through the night. I think we need to accept the fact that unless our country changes significantly, and starts actively assisting its homeless, hungry, sick, addicted, veterans, etc in a multidisciplinary format, via structured programs…Getting some of these people through the night is all we can hope for. Sometimes, that actually is enough.

    As for the food regulation: No, I don’t agree that this should occur. I wouldnt’ feed a homeless person food that I wouldn’t eat. I take the same hygenic precautions when preparing their food as I do with friends and family meals. Hopefully others feel and do the same – but they are not operating restaurants, or accepting any form of renumeration. This is where the law needs to back off. Don’t try to start regulating spontaneous acts of goodwill toward others. Organizations, yes, because the public’s money is at stake, and they receive tax breaks and other advantages as a result – They should have to prove that they’re trustworthy.

    However, if private individuals want to bring food to people as time and money allows, the government has no place interfering. Of course if someone does something wrong, prosecute to the fullest extent – but don’t ruin it for all who do it right. The homeless are not forced to accept food, and no state or other funds are being used. Frankly, it’s no different than a person bringing a dinner to a new neighbor or acquaintance who is sick or in trouble – Will the government attempt to regulate that, too? No one regulates the food that the homeless pick out of the dumpsters before they eat it…I do believe this is a safer alternative. I do understand that there are sickos out there, like the ones the original poster mentioned – but do you really believe that establishing a law is going to prevent criminals from doing the wrong thing? We’ve seen how successful that laws about drugs, drunk driving, and gun control have been, right? The majority of the bad guys just learn to be more careful, and it will ruin the majority of the good guys’ abilities to help people as they do – where the shelters, churches, and other “regulated” orgs fall short.

    Please consider the full scope of what you’re suggesting. If you feel that what you’re doing to help is a success, and is more effective long-term than what people like myself are doing, excellent – Please keep doing it! There’s more than enough trouble to go around; We can all help in our own ways! Those of us who choose to use our own families’ money, time and resources to help out where organizations and the government fall short need to be left alone. Let US serve as the invisible people, who help those when no one else can or will.

  • Kimberly Savino

    A number of people will not approach and ask for food, but when I offer it, they are surprised, and very gratefully accept. I understand that people who are ill need help, and would prefer money to buy substances over food – but that’s not something I can help them with. I have yet to hear any complaints re. the food, and have only had it met with appreciation and enthusiasm.

  • Kimberly Savino

    There are some good points here – and it’s true, some people may not want, or feel they can manage living in a home. That’s why I said what I did about sometimes just helping people maintain being enough. As for the coolers of tainted food, that’s pretty rare – and unfortunately, there have been people in “regulated” eating establishments who have tainted food or made others ill purposely. Laws won’t stop the crazies, as we’ve seen in other areas. I mostly provide packaged food that’s sealed, and fruit to be peeled, to the homeless – anything I do prepare for certain individuals, I know how to handle safely, and have some type of personal connection established with the person beforehand. If a homeless person chooses to eat something prepared, he or she is choosing to take a risk . Considering the many I’ve seen taking food out of trash cans, I think many feel that my and other people’s offerings are a much better alternative. Sticking with packaged foods is definitely the safer way to go, for all involved. The “petting zoo” comment is interesting, because I don’t believe that many of us who help in the ways we do are thinking along these lines. Some of us, like myself, have been there before, and feel guilty many times living in our comfortable housing – even though we shouldn’t. There is nothing wrong with working hard, overcoming challenges, and having nice things. Everyone should share and do for others. Some people don’t, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who has nice things are looking down on others. I am sorry for whatever situations have adversely affected your trust in others, and in their acts of kindness, but please understand that not everyone is like that. I do what I do because I’ve been there before. I don’t speak down to these people, and respect them as I would anyone else. If they don’t want help, I would never force it, and there are plenty of others who do. Just as the homeless and hungry don’t want to be judged, it works both ways; Please don’t make assumptions re. the intentions of those who want to help people. Just as with the homeless people, every situation and individual is different. There is NOTHING wrong with people deriving pleasure and pride from helping others – It’s a good thing that motivates them to keep doing it, and inspires others to create positive change. I also found the “fish” comment interesting, as I mentioned that earlier – I definitely agree with the concept, but it’s not realistic to even try to work with each homeless person, to help him/her reach goals. There simply aren’t enough resources and professionals in place to do this. If there were, I agree – that would likely lead to a much better, more permanent outcome. In many cases, the way things are set up now, all we can do is help people to survive, if they want the help. That actually can be enough.

  • Kimberly Savino

    What about the people who are too ill, physically, mentally, or due to an addiction, to be able to work? There actually are people on disability and welfare who aren’t just taking advantage of the system. Treatment for many of these conditions takes a LONG time, and isn’t always easily found.

  • Kimberly Savino

    I agree with your point about the homeless not needing to spend money on food if its given to them, so then they can buy drugs or alcohol. I don’t like this part, either. Fortunately, not everyone I help will do this. However, it’s impossible to tell with accuracy who these folks might be, and those who are genuine. When I help people, I’m doing so because I know what it’s like to suffer – and believe that all people should have basic needs met. No one living on the street to my knowledge is healthy and happy. I’m not here to judge, just help short-term where I can…It’s one less day they have to go without. I agree about the importance of programs, but again, there aren’t enough resources and social workers as it is now. What people here who are against feeding are suggesting would require extraordinary numbers of new, qualified, regulated workers – who all need supervision – and lots of money. The programs themselves aren’t enough. Even housing assistance, as you pointed out, isn’t going to solve it. For those who suffer from addiction, treatment needs to be an integral, significant part of the program for years, not just a few weeks. Treatment centers are often overfilled and very expensive, and the need for treatment is on the rise. What can be done about this? The mentally ill need therapy, the physically ill need treatment. Who is going to provide all of this? Without it, the underlying issues will never go away, so the cycle continues. I don’t know what the answer to this is, but I know I won’t step over dying, suffering people in the process, without trying to help. If a viable, widespread, all-encompassing program comes to fruition that deals with the issues, provides all of the needs, and prevents regression by lots of community services post-treatment, I’m all for it, and I’ll gladly support it. In the meantime, I’ll keep doing what I can to help, and what I feel is right.

  • loreiwe

    to end homelessness you must end the credit system, you must end the fed reserve, make it so that owning land is easier by making housing not so arm and leg costly, stop rent thats higher than paychecks..you cannot survive on min wage. even if they had jobs owning or renting property is getting way out of hand and there will be another inbox of homelessness if its not stopped.. it shouldnt have to take a million years to pay off a house or rent a place where other smokers can burn it down in a heart beat… we wouldnt have had the tn wildfires if someones kids had stuff better to do than to play with a smokers cigarette lighter…but one of these days theres gonna be a bigger fire than ever due to all the oil pipeline spills.,,,and no one cares now but we will burn. no offense to all you smokers out therebut ciggarette lighters make our country and easy wildfire target in the hands of stupid kids or terrorists….. but if we didnt have beer, drugs, alcohol, ciggarettes and lighters, butane we might could actually do something about the homeless problem…but then id also be out of a job and the cancer hospital people might be too…

  • Lacy
  • Lacy

    Me and my husband are having a hard time this year and really need help bad right now my husband was layed off doe to store not making much money. So right now we’re staying in a motel for a week and by next week we will be going to the streets because of no where to stay and no money ..please someone help us.thank you and God bless you and ur family.

  • Excellent post. I will be sharing it on a new post in my series on ‘The Poor Middle Class Crisis’. Please read it, share it. My goal is to raise awareness and reduce existence of #hunger #homelessnes and help #poormiddleclass survive.

  • veronika

    “I asked “So Bear, if Billy didn’t bring you food what would happen to you? Bear’s response shocked me. He said, “Well, the nuns bring me breakfast every day, and those guys in the warehouse over there give me a burrito at lunch.” You just had to look at Bear to see he wasn’t going hungry and now, out of his own mouth, he told us proof that we were enabling him (and others) to remain homeless.”

    Where exactly do you see a proof that he would get out of being homeless if he didnt have any food?

  • Greg Parker

    You’re an effing idiot.

  • FedUpHR


  • FedUpHR

    That’s a great idea!

  • Shelley Leiser

    Angela ,you are awesome! How are you doing, now that you are 14?

  • Shelley Leiser

    Excellent point. I notice there are many Very different viewpoints expressed here, and I think many of them have merit. This is not a “One size fits all problem.”

  • baphomet4all

    Too many homeless don’t go to shelters… you are on the outside looking in and don’t know anything about homelessness. To suggest giving out food in the park being bad is sick… we don’t have the means to save people but keeping them fed is a start… get off your high horse! How much time are you really donating to help? Or was this just for your f’ing journalist career?thats what I figured… go tell people that have been doing needle exchange and giving out food and clothes for years they’re not helping enough… you’re an idiot! I was homeless for 7 years and those people help so much!!! How dare you minimalize their efforts!! If you want to point your finger point it at the politicians who outlaw homelessness… ask them why there are no govt programs to help people get off the streets? Why there is only one system that some people are not fit for… unreal…

  • baphomet4all

    Liar!!!!!!! You’ve obviously never been on welfare or you’d know you’re full of it

  • Reggie McDonald

    Reading this article brings to mind. If you do desire to feed the homeless people do so. Also, when you go and hand them food and drink or whatever else they may need, keep in mind they need JESUS spoken to them. Food for the body is good, food for the soul is the GOSPEL, it is essential for their eternal life in heaven. I saw the need to do both. I am blessed to hold a Bible Study on Monday mornings with biscuits and water with the homeless. Where? We gather under a tree. I bring chairs and a canopy if it is raining. We fellowship in their environment, meeting them where they hang out which is near a Salvation Army. Food and the Gospel. JESUS did this with HIS disciples. We can do the same with the homeless people. Amen

  • Chris Harris

    I agree that feeding people randomly can have undesirable effects. You rightly point out there is a lot of overlap in NY or LA but smaller towns may only have a few groups out there helping. Some shelters and missions have rules that are difficult to follow. We do outreach with food, clothes, and linkage to services. Most don’t take advantage of linkage because they have tried to access some of there services in the past without success. Survival is stressful and takes a lot of energy. Maybe the hoops required to jump through to get the services needs to change too. A comprehensive program would streamline the process. A housing first model seems to work well in many areas.

  • Ryan D. Mikesell

    Year 2015 number of homeless 600,000, % of disabled homeless 43%. Social Security disability needs to be a livable income. I myself get $755 SSDI/SSI that’s $9,060 a year, $3,000 under the federal poverty line which is $12,060 a year for one person. Where I live Portland Oregon year 2017 4,177 homeless people and 60% are disabled. Don’t forget about the kids who are homeless also they are part of the overall numbers also. So its not only about jobs you see?

  • KeithBender

    Article 1 Section 1 of the California Constitution states that “We the People” have the Right to Pursue and OBTAIN Safety and Happiness. And if that were true the Politicians would make Housing possible regardless of whatever excuse is offered and made more important that the Constitution.

    Having something to eat can be quickly understood as HAPPINESS and a Place to Sleep and maintain one’s hygiene needs regularly can be seen as SAFETY. Radical Solutions to address the Cause of Homelessness can start with doing whatever has to be done to allow a Homeless person(s) regain some Balance and some Sanity. Food is being used as a springboard to what? An economic system that replaces Our Constitution and cannot force or cajole disenfranchised People with half truths and Nimby whining. Apparently keeping Symptom oriented issues as ways to avoid actual progress. Maybe simply a form of Denial?

    Comfort Food is an emotional Placebo of wellbeing even if not run like a Restaurant. Service to others starts somewhere at sometime and can grow
    once in action. Actually knowing what Article 1 Section 1 says might change some attitudes and expectations. Getting to the Root of the Problem
    is a Political malady.

  • Tiffany Corson

    I agree with you whole heartily and feel we should be more proactive on joining with other or all to unite this in San Diego and have one location for our homeless…… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/875828041f0c93844eef6c178bc2fe4ebf4eb225807c182fdb2fefc55059336a.png

  • D Sheets

    We found out early on in our city that there was a “gap” over 100 homeless could not or would not darken the door of our local mission due to bad experiences there for them.

  • Sam Lockwood

    Why stop at merely regulating feeding the homeless? Given that thousands of people suffer from food-borne illness every year I think we ought to look at regulating any time food is prepared or transferred to somebody else: cooking for your family, bringing a dish to a pot-luck dinner, even going out to pick up sandwiches for your co-workers. All of these actions present opportunities for contamination, plus we want to make sure that in all these situations good eating habits and social mores are being taught. Given the logic you presented in your article, I think the only clear course is that anyone handling food in any way other than shoving it in their own face should legally require 1,000 hours of food service training and an expensive license from some regulatory body (either the local board of health, or ideally the Food & Drug Administration). We can’t have people being fed willy-nilly after all, they’re morons and might eat dirt or poop on the sandwiches without some government appointed minder looking over their shoulders 24/7.

  • a2phil

    PLEASE tell me WHERE I can make $100/hour panhandling!!!! I’m homeless and need more than the pocket change, verbal/physical abuse, police harassment and/or attempts at conversion to whatever religion I USUALLY get when panhandling…I’ll move ANYWHERE (all I need is my thumb to travel across the country)….

    I could believe making $100 a month panhandling….

  • a2phil

    Not too many jobs for the over 40 in this country…at that age you’re considered “over-qualified” (P.C. speak for “too old”) and those under 40 are “under-qualified” (P.C speak for “too young”)…

  • Beth Clark Kamminga

    Do really think they inspect it. Take your daughter too a real food bank then both of you will get educated. Think about hard if you want reality. Take it from someone that volunteered at foodbanks for many years.

  • Rachel Quintero

    I’ve been reading a lot of the comments here regarding homelessness. Yesterday was Christmas Eve and my family and I went out and fed the homeless of our county. I met a man that truly touched my heart as he was homeless, he was also the unfortunate victim of hospital abuse/neglect simply because he is homeless. He fell out of the hospital bed due to his nurses negligence and broke his big toe completely. His toe was dangling. They cut his shoe trying to make it to where he could walk with his shoes on with a broken toe ! Then sent him on his way. Now who does that? Let me just say, alot of people and yes i do mean agencies and otherwise, treat homeless people as the crud under their feet. It truly is a shame.

    Now i have a gofund me account started to help raise enough money to take this man to a good hospital to get care for his toe, before it becomes infected, turning a bad situation into something much worse. Someone has to care and these people need more than food, they need love and care and someone to talk to, encouragement and company, and a shoulder to lean on. Without Love and concern from other people, they cant function in our society because they are so emotionally strung out and neglected that they’ve lost all hope. Every single person has a story of their own and what got them to where they are is a story in itself.

    The article above makes plenty of sense, but instead of assuming there are agencies in every city or small town, and assuming they can save the world without the help of everyday people like you and me, and that if we regulate the feeding it will solve all our problems, how about we spend more time teaching others how to love those who are unloveable ? The things we take for granted, others are praying for…..and homeless people arent second class citizens. They have more heart and care for those who have even less than they do……than you or me combined.

    Last i read, the bible didnt say to feed the poor through agencies that regulate public feeding. He said Give to the poor because its in your heart to do so. Regulating how we give to the homeless, food or otherwise is not the heart of our problem and wont help 100% to change homelessness, but loving them as we should, teaching people no matter who they are, changing hearts one at a time to love as Jesus said to do, can move mountains. The answer is in this world of hearts ….the ones walking over them just because their bums…..the ones who think less of others based on financial status or appearance, and the ones who think they are supremely better than those having less that they do. The problem, the root of the problem, is in the hearts of mankind all over the world. Change? regulations? i agree…..If the world could see that the greatest cruelty is our casual blindness to the despair of others.

  • Rachel Quintero

    how childish all of you are. seriously grow up and walk the walk and stop talking already

  • Rachel Quintero

    you asked. i’ll answer….. it has come to people like you who put themselves on a pedestal especially when you know better at your age and easily handing over 5.00 just so that later you can bitch about it and not taking time to know this man personally ! You do NOT know him or how neglected in this life he probably is or his mental status or family status, If he has been abused or so hurt by someone thats all he knows to do. Instead of judging and complaining about it DO SOMETHING OTHER THAN HANDING OUT MONEY YOUR TIME IS MORE VALUABLE

  • FedUpHR

    Perfectly stated.

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