St. Louis is the city that works hard to protect the needy from those trying to help them.
The City fought back against a lawsuit brought by Pastor Ray Redlich and his partner in crime (if, by “crime”, we mean trying to give food to the homeless) Chris Ohnimus. Dave Roland from the Freedom Center of Missouri argued on behalf of them in federal court. Dave was on the morning show today.
Pastor Redlich and Mr. Ohnimis apparently take their Christian faith seriously enough to provide care for the homeless without any government help. Interesting idea.
Here’s how it works: volunteers make sandwiches in places already certified by local health officials, add fruit, granola bars, or whatever they put together at the moment, and give them away to people who need it as part of their ministry.
Q) So what’s the problem?
A) They didn’t get a permit.
Q) Why not go get a permit?
A) It requires at least ten steps that include having a portable hand-washing station, putting volunteers through a “temporary food safety training program”, asking permission in writing each and every time, registering with the City and State for tax purposes, and having at least three food-grade washtubs on-site.… And spend hundreds of dollars just to get through the permit process and likely thousands just to meet the criteria listed above. Basically, their fresh food-making scheme is being treated like a commercial food truck or restaurant endeavor.
There’s plenty of room to debate the policies addressing the homeless in St. Louis (it IS an issue, especially Downtown) but inventing barriers to volunteers feeding those in need shouldn’t be part of the discussion.
In this segment, Dave explains why the ministry isn’t giving up and will continue to push back on City rules that – literally – attempt to keep fresh food out of the mouths of the hungry.
Give it a listen and let us know what you think.
* Disclosure: as I mentioned on the air this morning, my wife is a member of the Freedom Center of Missouri’s board of directors.
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