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South Carolina policy requiring a fee and permit to feed homeless begins

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Feeding the homeless is about to get harder as a new policy is set to begin this Saturday, Feb. 15, in Columbia, SC. Charities and non-profits well be required to pay a fee and obtain a permit 15 days in advance in order to feed the homeless in parks.

One impacted charity that was interviewed by the Free Times, Food Not Bombs, has been serving food to the homeless in Finlay Park every Sunday for 12 years. The group’s organizer, Judith Turnipseed, noted that the group has an impeccable track record and always tidies up after the meal. But with the new crackdown, Food Not Bombs will have to pay at least $120 per week for the right to feed the homeless.

“We have no formal organization,” Turnipseed says. “We don’t have a 501(c)(3). We’re just a group of people who come to the park and bring food and share it with anyone who comes. That includes people who are homeless, and people who have a home but are hungry. It’s a people’s picnic.”

Since the Columbia City Council approved its exile plan in August, the city has been trying to herd its homeless people to a shelter on the outskirts of town and keep them away from downtown. If charities continue to provide food in downtown parks, the thinking goes, it will allow homeless people to continue to live downtown, rather than being forced to leave.

Turnipseed is currently considering legal action to prevent enforcement of the measure.

Columbia is part of an unfortunate trend of cities that have decided to crack down on charity groups that feed the homeless. Others that have passed or are considering ordinances include Raleigh, St. Louis, Harrisburg, and Los Angeles.

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