By Diane Morris
Philanthropic organizations can no longer provide food on public squar e for the hungry because the city says they must first get a permit. City of ordinance 133.03 states that groups holding a ;special event ; in an outside area must have a special permit to do so. According to this ordinance; a special event is a preplanned event of series of events of last weeks duration, sponsored by a public or private person or entity. However ,groups distributing food claim that they are not considerd a special event.
An article in the plan dealer written by Micheal K. McIntyre in May 008 states that city officials were event were concerned because homeless people were leaving food on the ground and vermin was a problem. The citys goal was to Public Square more ;presentable ; and not to large groups congregating to pass out food there. The citys alternative for the groups was to move the food distribution to a different location and make conditions more sanitary and manageable on May 5 2008 MHS s tarted a homeless meal distribution program at their headquarters 1744 Payne Ave s o the groups have a venue to provide food .
The homeless meal distributions program has been in operations for two months and,accordin g to organizers, it is going well. Currently the program is in operation four days a week from 6-9pm with around50-60 homeless people coming for a hot meal.Approximately 5-6 volunteers show up each week to distribute food and passesout clothing donations.There is an extra securiety guard on duty while food is being distributed. Eric Mores, Director of Homeless Services of MHS,says ;Volunteers have been really good at maintaining cleanup,taking trash to dumpsters, and generally keeping the area tidy.; Morse also says that MHS offers clothing for homeless people as well. Many of the people who come to their meal site are from MHS shelters and have already had a hot meal. Some people just come looking out for donation of clothing. Previously, every night except one was claimed by a group distribute food. After the move, only three nights regulary feature groups ministering to homeless people.
Care on Square, a church organization that pass out food to the hungry in Cleveland is one of the groups asked by city officials to move their feeding site.although not as nice as East18th parking lot, they are closer to the womens shelter and consequently have seen an increase in the number of women who receive their services Tom Wagner of care on the square says,; In a meeting with MHS and the city on april 23rd , we were told that we needed to move from Mall B [the previous location] to the new location [at MHS] We were told we do not need a permit to serve there since it is on private property. We were also told the city is paying MHS $57,000 per year. We serve between 75 and 200 people each Saturday. We have ,lost, some people as part of a move, but many faces are visiting us at the new location.; an old Chiness proverbs says, ;A person who has food has many promblems. A person who has no food has only one problem.; A hot bowl of soup and a piece of bread to a hungry homeless person can mean so much to him/her. Wagners says, we watch God continually provide food,volunteers, clothing and are in awe as we watch Him work.
We have made friends and truly feel we blessed to be apart of this ministry.; Groups like Care on the Square are committed to filling the stomachs of people in need, even if the city officials do not always see the value of their services. CUYAHOGA AFFORDABLE HOUSING ALLIANCE 1;30 PM FIRST MONDAY OF EVERY MONTH 1350 EUCLID AVE LOWER LEVEL JOIN US AT BRING AFFORDABLE HOUSING TO Cleveland CELEBRATING 10 YEARS 2008.
Copyright Homeless Grapevine Issue #85 in July-August 2008 Cleveland Ohio