I know that a lot of people/groups have been working diligently on collecting signatures but yet we are still more than 20,000 short. We have been taking them out on handouts and sharing them via the web and email as well but we could really use the help getting registered voters to sign before the deadline. (So print, sign, and mail it in, friends!)
Over the last two months we have continued on with our normal “routine” and haven’t had a hitch or bother from any law enforcement. We were already complying with health preparation and sanitation rules and Amy and I took it one step further and received our charitable food safety managers certificate to show the City of Houston we’re STILL doing our part. Only seven people showed in total – possibly due to the fact it’s voluntary. I’m guessing someone brought a law passed to the Mayor’s/City’s attention so legally she couldn’t force anyone to comply (there hasn’t actually been a single case of food-born illness from charitable feeding reported in Houston, ever!) – just offer food safety education. Back in ’96 the Bill Emerson Act was passed to protect us and anyone wanting to donate food: ”The law protects food donors. The federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act of 1996 protects businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals who donate food in good faith from civil or criminal liability should such donated food later cause harm to a recipient.”~ MCFB. Now, at the class Amy and I were told by both representatives from the City of Houston and the City of Houston Health Department to continue feeding just as we do now, that no was was going to ticket or fine anyone or harass us in any way. The problem is, now, that this is quite conflicting with the actual ordinance you can read for yourself here. What is a cop going to do after July 1st, enforce the “law” or take our word for it that “those people” told us it was ok? Yeah, riiiiight. So, because of all this confusion both with what we have been told, read, and media fed, we are still at a loss. I can’t even imagine how all of this seems to those that aren’t directly involved. It’s hard for us to even explain. All I really know this is affecting us in the worst way possible. We have lost donors and are running on an empty bank account and straight out of my pocket and food/product donations from faithful volunteers. How can a non-profit operate on basically NOTHING? We had one large donation of $5,000 from the Saint Arnold Brewery back in January and a total of $25 since then. The last two years we have run (by the skin of our teeth) on roughly $13,000 to $15,000 each year and this year has been the most difficult.
As of now we have to step back from our routine and figure out how we are going to work around/with the feeding ordinance that goes in place next Sunday and how to raise funds so that we may continue to help those less fortunate in the Houston and surrounding areas. If you would like to DONATE it would be so greatly appreciated. If you have thoughts or ideas on writing grants and organizing fundraisers please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can start planning! We’ve had an awesome run the last 2 1/2 years and I know this FAR from over, right? =)
Thank you for all of your love and support!!!
The feeding ordinance has thrown up a LOT of confusion to everyone both observing and involved.