The Food Not Bombs event was shut down six weeks ago when police arrested volunteers who wanted to feed the poor in a downtown park in Tampa, Florida. Now Tampa's City Council wants to ease the regulation of feeding the poor in public parks by making an ordinance that is similar to a St. Pete ruling about allowing volunteers and locals to hand out food to the poor if and only if the attendance level is less than 50 people.

New regulations

Tampa's City Council wants to ensure that those events with less than 50 attendants would be allowed in Tampa to continue their program without a permit.

However, those events with more than 50 attendants with no permit or insurance, could mean that the event would be shut down and would also include arrests for disobeying the law.

The City Council has agreed to review the change after six months when the practice would be enabled. In the meantime, there are some restrictions to feeding the poor or homeless in any public park.

Avoiding mistakes

Last month, thousands of tourists poured into the Tampa area for the football championship. Across the football stadium, the volunteer group Food Not Bombs was dishing out food to homeless and Poor People in the park across the street. They were told by police to shut down the service and leave the facility.

When the volunteers refused, seven of those at the park were arrested and taken to the police headquarters near the park. Those seven were given a court notice for trespassing charges. Sadly the group members did have good intentions, but did not continue to comply with the ruling.

A Tampa ordinance that is currently in place says that people who are conducting outdoor activities need permits and insurance if there are 25 or more people wanting to distribute food to the public.

The change to the ordinance means that permits and insurance would not be considered if the attendance to an outdoor activity is less than 50 people. But for those events that would require more people to attending to increase over 50, then permits and insurances would need to be present.

The draft for the change to the current ordinance would take place March 16 of this year. Council members also want to discuss offering menial jobs to homeless people for minimum wage that worked well in New Mexico.