Changes to City Ordinance to Protect Needy, Private Property Owners

Houston Mayor Annise Parker today put forward revisions to an existing city ordinance that would help ensure the food being distributed on Houston’s streets to the needy will be safe to eat and available where needed. The changes would also aim to protect the rights of private property owners who often have to deal with trash and other issues left behind.

“Houston has many benevolent residents who want to give uneaten food away on a street. It’s a kind thought, but we need to streamline our food safety standards for everyone to avoid food-borne illnesses,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “The changes I’m proposing will help coordinate efforts, and protect private property rights for feeding operations on our streets.”

The new ordinance will require organizations and individuals wishing to provide food for the homeless or indigent to:

• Register with the Houston Health Department and Human Service (HDHHS); there is no charge for registration and it is valid indefinitely or until the organization ceases operations. Registration may be revoked for repeated violations

• Complete a modified food handlers training course provided at no charge by HDHHS. The training will include safe food handling procedures, ordinance requirements, strategies for working with the homeless and information and referral for health and social services

• Obtain written permission from the owner/manager of public or private property to serve food• Prepare/assemble food in a licensed kitchen (which are readily available throughout the community)

• Require a plan for clean up of trash following food service.

• Implementing certain health standards set forth by HDHHS will help ensure food is maintained at an adequate temperature to avoid food poisoning, as well as disclosure of ingredients to avoid allergic reactions.

If these ordinance changes are approved by Houston City Council, the requirements may be enforced by HDHHS and/or HPD. The item is scheduled to be on the March 7 agenda.

Houston has at least 38 organizations known to provide street feeding services. Coordination of the various feeding operations will be handled by the Coalition for the Homeless and the Houston Food Bank. These local organizations will also serve as a point of entry for new organizations wanting to help or for individuals wanting to work with an established operation. Through coordination, excess food in one location or area of the city will be eliminated and more will have access to the meals.

Comments (14)
  1. Ms. Padgett says:

    Making it harder for people to be kind to the needy, is going to leave the needy on their own. This means they will be digging through garbages looking for food more or going hungry period. Now I ask you Mayor Parker, is this really making sure the needy have healthier food to eat?

    I believe I can speak for the homeless, as I have been part of many street feeds in the city, THEY WILL TAKE A RISK ON GETTING FOOD POISONING IF IT MEANS A HOT MEAL. I think Mayor Parker is out of touch with the needy and it will cost more in staffing to handle these services to impliment. I think she is just trying to get the homeless to move to some one else’s city.

    1. Lisa says:

      “This means they will be digging through garbages looking for food more or going hungry period. Now I ask you Mayor Parker, is this really making sure the needy have healthier food to eat?”

      Thank you!

  2. Independent Texan says:

    This is just more big government thinking. “We in government know better how to do everything.”

    Coming up with a list of new regulations and requirements on those who are trying to do the Lord’s work just illustrates why the Nanny State is so counterproductive.

    The more burdens you put on people trying to help, the less they are going to want to help, plain and simple. And that’s fine to big government liberals like Mayor Parker, because they want people permanently addicted to government assistance.

    It’s not just happening at the federal level. It’s happening everywhere.

  3. Nancy J. Bell says:

    I’m not sure in what venue that idea looked like a good one, but out in the real world that looks like the potential for one big mess, with mixed messages about charity and human dignity, riding on the crooked message of being done for the best of public health. The public health approach being flaunted is not scientifically sound. This campaign is playing on fears and prejudices against the impoverished to create the so-called need to control homeless people. Again.

    1. Lisa says:

      “with mixed messages about charity and human dignity, riding on the crooked message of being done for the best of public health”

      This is put very well!

  4. Alton Gayle says:

    If Mayor Parker is sincere, then this proposal shows that she is clearly out of touch with reality.
    However, I suspect that this is just one more stone in the mountain of regulations that govern each tiny aspect of our lives.
    As one who has fed the needy on a regular basis, I can assure you that this regulation will halt my efforts, and I suspect, the efforts of many others.

  5. M Cherry says:

    I don’t recall a single reported incident regarding food-borne illness regarding Food Not Bombs or feeding the homeless. The mayor, however, has eaten herself sick at Montrose area brunches since time began. Ever seen those legs? Surprised she can still walk. I’ve personally witnessed seconds and thirds at the buffet. You know she never goes hungry. Wonder if she, or any other city council person has ever served the Houston Homeless. Do they even understand why that population has grown so large lately (city layoffs, national econ) and who these people are? Just because someone cut of your driver trying to get to a hot meal on the Library Plaza is no reason to come after those who REALLY DO CARE about their fellow human beings.

  6. M Cherry says:

    P.S. Talk about cutbacks in spending…just what would these health officers be budgeted for this kind of inspection and approval process??

  7. Lisa says:

    “avoid food-borne illnesses”

    Not a single person has been quoted to be complaing of this.. The city has not provided any evidence of a single instance of “Food-borne illness” Even if they did, then they would need address indivdual complaints, not make it illegal to provide mutual aid or share home cooked meals with hungry people.

  8. Lisa says:

    “and protect private property rights for feeding operations on our streets.”

    This doens’t make any sense. We have no trespassing laws that can be enforced if this is a problem.

  9. Remember The Alamo=Goliad says:

    As a volunteer–I have worked at these types of giveaway: you either have the alcoholics or drug addicts entering to eat then departing with what they now saved to head direct to the liquor store.

    Tuekey and Thanksgiviing: brand new vehicles arrive, just like SNAP: how could these people stand there smoking for hours, have the latest cells, afford the gas on 4X4 brandnew let alone the insurance.

    I quit I can no longer donate to those who lie,cheat and steal.

    Overseas our AID, Catholic Charities also are fraudulent: that is why we owe $16 Trillion and are guaranteed bankrupt.

    Either fakes on the lower end ini public housing with boyfriend sperm donors or wealthy Corp welfare

    So from Earned Income Credits and there should be no one in receipt ore rewarded any tax deductions for heathen breeding via sperm donor exponentials.

    TWO TAX DEDUCTIONS: stop the Duggar, Jackson, Kate n Joh, Octobmom DNA Rubber stamping we are better than you ; and we can utilize and drain all the natural and man made resourcees just for our NUMBERS USA all while animals as cats, dogs, goats, birds, horses and wild burros are euthanized and slaughers.

    Texas is obsessed with its Dove Hunts(who actually stay with one mate a lifetime; old zoo animal Safaris for bigger egos; now wild pigs are killed: meanwhile we have Open Borders where a pregnant female crosses into the USA just in time to birth for auto-welfare citizenship from womb to tomb on the backs of diminishing working US Citizens as Taxpayers –we we nurture our sons and daughters sending them off to be B E H E A DE D or return in coffins or without arms as legs as US Military to be systematically sacrificed on foreign
    soil around the world 200 deployment locations we pay for to guard other nations borders: while we are forced to be sued for enforcing our laws or called racists with demands by the same old :”don’t penalize for the sins of the father” just pay our COLLEGE aka DREAM ACT–OPEN BORDERS CRIMINAL ILLEGAL ALIEN demands are a plague…


    I sure didn’t see anything about that or Texas Independence etc.

    EVIL vs One Nation Under GOD look who is homeless!
    PSS Border ranchers and farms get invaded by illegals and the ACLU or Souther Poverty Law Center sues and confiscates the land and property which was held and worked by families for a century giving it to the illegals! much longer do we have a s a sovereign nation?

  10. Nancy Bell says:

    Response to Remember The Alamo=Goliad

    So much anger and hate. What happened to you? You should NOT be someone working with vulnerable populations. You view of people is so dark. I am glad I do not share your views.

  11. Kathy Mitro says:

    We must,I mean positively MUST stop these ill disguised ” supposed protective” laws from becoming reality. Each and every comment here, with the exception of one, is filled with love and love always win, just as light always overcomes darkness For this very reason we are fighting the proliferation of these laws that seek to destroy people instead of easing suffering. We have a global day coming up on Sunday April 1, 2012 to prevent these laws and overturn others already in place it is FOOD IS A RIGHT NOT A PRIVILEGE -Day of compassion. For there is no one right way to give out food only giving out all the precious food you can.

    1. Nancy Bell says:


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