When excessive noise overrides free meal services 

in November 9th, 2021

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As Elon Musk posts sassy tweets about world hunger, initiatives to feed the hungry are facing opposition across the U.S. Most recently, a city in Oregon voted to limit free meals to their homeless population. Here’s what happened:

  • Local churches in Brookings, Oregon began the Community Kitchen Project in 2009, working together to ensure one free meal was offered at a church every day.
  • After a number of other meal services halted during the pandemic, St. Timothy’s Episcopal alone began offering free meals four times a week in addition to providing shelter in their parking lot.
  • Annoyed by the resulting noise and disturbances, neighbors in the area petitioned the City Council to cease these services to the homeless.
  • Last month, an ordinance was unanimously passed limiting free meals to just twice a week, though St. Timothy’s refuses to restrict service and is preparing for legal action. Churches will also have to apply for a permit to serve those meals to meet zoning regulations.

Overall, free food has been controversial all pandemic long. Residents are lodging complaints and taking action against efforts like community fridges, which connect the hungry with food donations stored in publicly accessible fridges maintained by volunteers. While community fridges have been around pre-pandemic, the concept surged in popularity last year. But now, they face pushback from both wealthier neighbors upset with the noise and government officials who say they violate zoning requirements.

 Separately, there’s concern over the quality of these meals and their impact on long-term health outcomes. A study recently emerged showing how meals given to the poor often rate poorly on healthy eating scales. Some are now calling for regulation around the nutrition standards of free meals to improve the quality of American diets.

🎬 Take Action 

Help your homeless community access a free Thanksgiving meal this year. Feeding America’s tool helps locate free Thanksgiving dinners nearby.

Resource Center:

  • Oregon Public Radio (Where we found this story) 12 days old | 5 minutes long
  • Bloomberg Elon Musk’s tweets 9 days old | 1 minute long
  • UPI Low scores for free meals 1 month old | 7 minutes long
  • The Counter Rise in community fridges 1 month old | 24 minutes long
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If you carrot all about the community, you’ll help support free meal programs!

Art Credit: Hayley Jane Wakenshaw

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