City puts a stop to homeless outreach
Couple must have proper permit to continue feeding dozens each day
By BRADLEY OLSON
Jan. 13, 2011, 11:14PM
Bobby and Amanda Herring spent more than a year providing food to homeless people in downtown Houston every day. They fed them, left behind no trash and doled out warm meals peacefully without a single crime being committed, Bobby Herring said.This would be laughable if the results weren't so tragic....
That ended two weeks ago when the city shut down their "Feed a Friend" effort for lack of a permit. And city officials say the couple most likely will not be able to obtain one.
Anyone serving food for public consumption, whether for the homeless or for sale, must have a permit, said Kathy Barton, a spokeswoman for the Health and Human Services Department. To get that permit, the food must be prepared in a certified kitchen with a certified food manager.
The regulations are all the more essential in the case of the homeless, Barton said, because "poor people are the most vulnerable to foodborne illness and also are the least likely to have access to health care."