An unidentified van rolls up along Love Park. A swarm of Philadelphia’s homeless move towards the opening doors, through which sandwiches are being discreetly passed. When the supplies are gone, the doors slam shut, and the van speeds off into the busy city streets. People have been feeding the city’s homeless this way for years, but that will all stop with Mayor Nutter’s new indoor feeding policy announced today.
Under the new rules, no more feeding of the homeless through the backs of vans. No more outdoor feeding in city parks. Why? Because it’s a matter of public health and safety, says the Mayor. Who knows what’s in that peanut butter and jelly, so Nutter wants to bring the homeless inside for a safe and healthy meal.
But not everyone is convinced that the Mayor’s motives are quite so pure. Might it have something to do with cleaning up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in time for the Barnes to move in? Nutter says that’s not the case. He says this has nothing to do with the people but, instead, with the activity. The Parkway is a public space, and the policy doesn’t mean to exclude anyone, he asserts. He just wants to eliminate the people who serve unsafe food to the homeless.
“This will stop people opening their car trunks, handing out sandwiches, and driving off into the dark, rainy night,” says the Mayor.
Regardless of the motive, the policy is being enacted tomorrow and will take full effect in 30 days. Outdoor feeding will stop, a temporary feeding site will be created on the City Hall apron on May 1st, and the homeless will be “encouraged” to take their meals inside.