Lim­its are sought on food for home­less

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Front Page - Val­ley Press Staff Writer

By JULIE DRAKE

LAN­CASTER — A pro­posed or­di­nance to reg­u­late the dis­tri­bu­tion of food to peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness would limit dis­tri­bu­tion to an in­door set­ting and link such meal ser­vices to other so­cial ser­vices to help peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness tran­si­tion into hous­ing and em­ploy­ment.

The pro­posed or­di­nance, first pre­sented in July 2018 be­fore the Lan­caster Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Com­mis­sion, went be­fore the Lan­caster Home­less Im­pact Com­mis­sion on Thurs­day morn­ing. The Com­mis­sion voted unan­i­mously to send the pro­posed or­di­nance to the City Coun­cil.

The goal of the pro­posed or­di­nance is to move food dis­tri­bu­tion events of side­walks and other pub­lic prop­erty where it may ob­struct the free flow of pedes­trian and ve­hi­cle traf­fic and pose a safety threat. In ad­di­tion, garbage and trash

left on the pub­lic prop­erty after the dis­tri­bu­tion

“Our goal is to watch out for pub­lic safety and health and wel­fare of our com­mu­nity,” Com­mis­sion Chair­woman Donna Ter­meer said.

Ac­cord­ing to the pro­posed or­di­nance, any­one who wishes to use space in a pub­lic park for the pri­mary pur­pose of con­duct­ing a food dis­tri­bu­tion event may do so if they sub­mit a fa­cil­ity rental ap­pli­ca­tion and the as­so­ci­ated fee, and com­ply with all re­quire­ments set forth in the rental con­tract. In ad­di­tion, the por­tion of the park re­quested to be used must be able to ac­com­mo­date the wa­ter and san­i­ta­tion re­quire­ments es­tab­lished in the state food safety re­quire­ments.

Per­sons who wish to dis­trib­ute food would also need to ob­tain a valid per­mit from the Los An­ge­les County Depart­ment of Health, and com­ply with all ap­pli­ca­ble state and county food safety re­quire­ments, in­clud­ing those for non­profit char­i­ta­ble tem­po­rary food fa­cil­i­ties.

The pro­posed or­di­nance would not ap­ply to food ven­dors or other food providers who con­tracted with, or are oth­er­wise au­tho­rized, by the City, Los An­ge­les County or other pub­lic agency or author­ity to sell or pro­vide food in con­junc­tion with a City-spon­sored event, farmer’s mar­ket.

Pub­lic Safety Di­rec­tor Lee D’Er­rico said the City also needs to con­sider the safety of the peo­ple who dis­trib­ute the food, in ad­di­tion to those who con­sume it.

Ruth Sanchez said it is their First Amend­ment right to share food with peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness.

“We share food be­cause there’s a need for it. If the City and the county were do­ing their job, and they were able to cover ev­ery­body, there wouldn’t be a need for me and other peo­ple here and other or­ga­ni­za­tions to do it,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez added she pro­vides food to peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness who live five miles out in the desert.

“We get calls from peo­ple that are hun­gry that can­not get to the cen­ter where we can go. There is no trans­porta­tion from five miles into the desert out. We pro­vide food. We pro­vide wa­ter,” Sanchez said, ad­ding they also col­lect their trash.

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