Homeless to be fed, but not on streets in Jacksonville, Florida

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 1 Feb 1998 20:39:03 -0800 (PST)


FWD   September 24, 1997   Jacksonville [FL] Times-Union

HOMELESS TO BE FED, BUT NOT ON STREETS


                        By Orlando De Bruce
                        Staff writer

Mediators have helped food providers and community leaders to reach a
tentative agreement on where to feed the hungry in Springfield.

Feeding people openly became an issue in Springfield this year when, after
beautification work was completed in Confederate Park, groups such as the
Salvation Army and individuals continued to feed all comers.

''It really was the Salvation Army that was the central part of the
feeding,'' said Bert Tanner, area commander for the Salvation Army in
Northeast Florida. ''We were feeding people there because that's where we
located the homeless.''

But after meeting with residents who complained about the litter left
behind after the public meals, the Salvation Army agreed to move its
feeding program downtown inside the shelter, Tanner said.

''We had enough verbal opposition, and we realized that it was going to be
impossible to continue,'' Tanner said.

In the tentative agreement, the Salvation Army will receive a $10,000 grant
from the city to help offset additional costs, such as security and kitchen
staff, Tanner said. Meals will be served 6 p.m. daily at 900 W. Adams St.,
he said.

Other soup kitchens in Jacksonville, such as the Liberty Center For The
Homeless downtown, also received money to open extra hours to feed the
homeless.

The tentative agreement, which included mediation from the Jacksonville
Community Council Inc., kicks in Oct. 1 and will be evaluated by both sides
in February.

Lisa Neary, president of the Springfield Improvement Association and
Women's Club, said the agreement is a win-win solution. She said
Springfield residents have become more sensitive to the needs of the
homeless and will sponsor more activities in the park, such as picnics and
tours.

''For sanitary purposes, I think the agreement will work for the community
because people will be able to use the park,'' Neary said. ''I'm real happy
with the end results. But some people who do feed the homeless at the park
are not part of the coalition. But that's where the police can enforce the
ordinances.''

Residents have complained that the continual feeding has led to overflowing
garbage cans and litter from plastic foam plates, bowls and plastic
utensils. They have also complained that such feeding encourages vagrants
to sleep in the park overnight, where they relieve themselves.

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