KCMO Council considers new rules for feeding homeless - KCTV5

KCMO Council considers new rules for feeding homeless

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The Kansas City Council is considering requiring volunteers who feed the homeless to undergo food service training and get a food-handling permit.

Council members Scott Wagner, Jan Marcason and Jim Glover proposed the ordinance change, which was backed by a committee and will now be considered by the full council.

Those feeding the homeless would need to undergo training at a cost of $25 per session. A food-handler permit fee would be waived. Food could not be prepared at a site and trash cans must be provided if none are available or inadequate.

Proponents of the ordinance change say this is about food safety and keeping neighborhoods clean while opponents say it is discrimination and could lead to a lawsuit.

"The (proposed) ordinance really puts a limitation on the volunteers that serve in these organizations," said Scott Lamaster of Taking It to the Streets. "You hear them say we're going to provide this training. But they're forgetting to tell you that there's a cost to each one of the volunteers."

Leslie Caplan of the Scarritt neighborhood association in the old Northeast area of Kansas City supports the proposal. She said needy will scarf down the food and leave a mess.

"Our neighborhoods have been decimated by transients who come in and leave their debris, leave their human waste," Caplan said.

The proposal would require nonprofits providing free food to the needy to prepare "all potentially hazardous food" in a kitchen that has a city permit, and processed food must be pre-packaged. On-site food preparations are prohibited.

Caplan said food preparations must be done in sanitary conditions.

"They just hand out food and God only knows where that was prepared, when it was prepared and how clean that kitchen was," Caplan said.

Lamaster doesn't think that is a valid concern.

"Since we've been serving for the last 15 years in Kansas City and actually for the last 28 years, there's not been one homeless person sick because of a food-borne illness," Lamaster said.

He vowed to see that the ordinance faces a court challenge if it's adopted.

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