Raleigh To Revisit Food Distribution Ordinance

Sep 16, 2013

Credit Dave DeWitt

Raleigh is taking more public comment about its food distribution ordinance. 

Monday night's meeting comes nearly a month after police threatened to arrest volunteer groups that were handing out food to the homeless in Moore Square.  A city ordinance prohibits food distribution in public parks without a permit, but at least one group says it had been giving out food on the weekends for six years. 

Dana Youst of Raleigh's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department says those groups will get a questionnaire with four items at tonight's meeting.

"Identify current food distribution locations you serve on the weekends, weekdays or both; list your priority of where you would like to do food distribution; what do you need to do to distribute food safely, humanely and compassionately? For example, do you need a sink for washing hands, etc.?; and then what does success look like to you in six months?" Youst explained.

Youst says she and her colleagues have been gathering public input about food distribution since last year.

"This is a meeting for voices of our citizens to be heard, no different than what we did a year ago," she says.

"This is what we're trying to accomplish.  I don't know that there are concerns.  I think we're super-excited that we get to expand this to a larger realm.  That's what we're looking forward to."

The city council agreed to waive the permit requirement and direct police not to arrest volunteers until they reach a deal.  The Law and Public Safety Committee is reviewing the information at a meeting in November.