The City of San Antonio announced today plans to address City regulations regarding the feeding of the homeless that supports charitable feeding in a safe manner. The plan was presented to the City Council’s Housing Committee this morning following a review of best practices, current regulations and input from to stakeholders.
You can replay video from the July 28 Homeless Feeding Summit here.
“We listened to the community and came up with a solution that we believe permits charitable feeders to continue their good works, while also protecting public health by ensuring the food they serve is safe,” said Melody Woosley, Director of Human Services.
Chapter 13 of the City Code regarding food and food handlers regulates all food establishments, including mobile food establishments (such as food trucks) and temporary food establishments, but does not currently include provisions specifically addressing charitable feeding. Under proposed revisions to the Code, a Charitable Feeding section will be added that specifically addresses the safety of prepared food and outlines minimum requirements for outdoor feeding of five or more people. The proposed revisions include:
- No permit or fee for charitable feeding
- Notice to Health Department by charitable feeders within 24 hours before or after a charitable feeding event
- Removal of undistributed food from site
- Proper trash and waste disposal on site
- One person on site with a food handler’s or food manager’s certification
- The fee for certification will be waived for charitable feeders
- Certification will not be required if charitable feeder is only distributing prepackaged non-perishable foods or whole uncut fresh fruit and vegetables
Additionally, the proposed revisions will recommend that charitable feeders follow minimum state sanitation standards found in the Texas Food Establishment Rules. This removes mandated requirements from charitable feeders, and instead emphasizes the food handler’s and food manager’s role in meeting these standards.
“While feeding the homeless is the primary goal, safety is necessary and remains something we need to balance in this equation,” stated Councilman Cris Medina, whose office sponsored food handling certifications for charitable organizations and their representatives through the ‘Good Food in Good Faith’ program. “I am pleased to be able to play role in supporting the spirit of our charitable community, and applaud the staff recommendations to meet on a middle ground.”
Currently, under the City’s Downtown Mobile Food Truck Vending Program, food truck operators are required to have a permit. The proposed revisions include an adjustment of the boundaries where the permits are required to accommodate the charitable feeders.
“The boundaries have been removed to exclude those areas where we know the bulk of charitable feeding is currently occurring?” asked Councilman Ron Nirenberg.
“Yes,” replied Woosley. “Most of the charitable feeding is occurring on the edges of downtown, which have been removed from the zone where a mobile vending permit is required.”
Prior to full implementation of the new policy, staff is recommending a six-month period to provide public notice and education to organizations and individuals currently involved in charitable feeding. The Housing Committee asked staff to continue to work with stakeholders on the revisions and voted to have the proposed policy presented to the full City Council at a future B Session.