Mayor Kenney Officially Ends Ban On Serving Food in Public Parks

Religious organizations that feed the homeless had sued over the ban, which the city tried to implement four years ago.

A man holds a sign during a Philadelphia Department of Public Health hearing in reference to regulations banning outdoor food distribution Thursday, March 15, 2012 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A man holds a sign during a Philadelphia Department of Public Health hearing in reference to regulations banning outdoor food distribution on March 15th, 2012 in Philadelphia. | Photo by Alex Brandon/AP

Philadelphia has removed a dormant ban prohibiting serving food in public parks, the Kenney administration announced today.

The ban, which the city tried to implement four years ago, faced harsh pushback from both religious and secular organizations that offer food to the homeless and hungry in Philly’s parks. Many claimed the controversial ban targeted the city’s homeless population and attempted to hide or displace the homeless.

At the time, then-Mayor Michael Nutter said he believed all food could and should be served indoors, according to NPR. But multiple religious organizations quickly filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, which was followed by a court injunction in August of 2012.

The injunction prevented implementation of the ban. The city and plaintiffs are now looking to have the injunction dismissed.

“The solution to homelessness and hunger is not to stigmatize it and hide it from public view,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in a press release. “I share with the plaintiffs a steadfast commitment to serve those in need and, together with other homeless advocates, will continue to pursue short and long-term approaches to improve food distribution and other vital services and, ultimately, to end hunger and homelessness in Philadelphia.”

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