City of Gainesville, Florida Tells the Poor: “No Soup for You!”

by Rich Lombino and Elizabeth Lombino


December 08, 2010


Topics: Hunger, Poverty in the Media


The City of Gainesville, Florida has recently imposed a 130-meals-a-day limit to some area soup kitchens. For a variety of reasons, none of which seem logical or humane, Gainesville is telling soup kitchens to turn away those who are hungry, if they happen to come after the 130 person limit. To see additional coverage of this incredible story, check out this recent post.
There has been some local coverage of the story as well. The Gainesville Sun recently reported that at a City Hall meeting, an 8 year-old girl named Mackenzie Case said, “It makes me sad that we have hungry people we aren’t allowed to feed.” She also held a hand-written sign that said, “If I was No. 131 you wouldn’t feed me?”
The pleas of this courageous little girl speak volumes. She has the dignity and reason that is somehow lost among the commissioners. We need to let the City of Gainesville know just how outrageous and inhumane this limit is.
Apparently, this has been a heated debate between the City of Gainesville and St. Francis House, a local soup kitchen that has had to impose this limit begrudgingly for the past year. St. Francis House plans to petition the city to overturn the limit. This past June, the Commission voted to allow the soup kitchen to provide meals above the limit on three days only: Thanksgiving, Christmas and a holiday of the facilities’ choosing. This Thanksgiving, St. Francis House had over 300 people come to eat a hot meal. Yet if these same 300 people showed up any of the other 362 days of the year, only 130 would be fed.
Imagine being hungry, going to a local soup kitchen to get a meal, only to be turned away? These are crisis services providing basic survival needs. Yet, with arbitrary limits such as these, these basic needs are not being met.
In these uncertain financial times, many Americans are one paycheck away from being homeless. This is not rhetoric, it is a scary fact. Food is incredibly expensive. If a family is forced to pay even more money out of pocket for food, they become closer to losing their home and other necessities. This is why soup kitchens and food pantries are critical assets to each city. Enacting a limit may lead to less of a financial strain on the city for the short term, but having to provide services to many more homeless individuals and families in the long term will certainly cost much more. Preventing the problem is ALWAYS less expensive than attempting to manage it.
Soup kitchens exist to help meet the basic needs of all of us. We are all deserving of a meal. It is a basic human right. Without food, a person cannot possibly thrive. The cycle of poverty will no doubt continue. Each city needs to work to meet these basic needs to ensure that each person can get one step closer to moving out of this dangerous cycle.
We have argued that America is better than this. We are one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and yet we continue to treat people in these inhumane ways.  Those of us at the Poverty in America Cause on Change.org believe a story as outrageous as this needs to be reported multiple times from multiple voices. Together, we can be loud and we can effect change.
Please join us in demanding the city of Gainesville to overturn this limit. Help us prevent another family from going hungry.
Photo Credit: Tudokin

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