Food Not Bombs: What the Mayor Thinks

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Last week, as we were talking to Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler about sea turtles, we were also finishing up this week's cover story, Food Fight. The story chronicles the ongoing struggle of Food Not Bombs to pass out free food and attract attention to its political message.

So, as the mayor was backing into a parking spot, we asked him if he'd finally respond to our requests for comment on the rogue group that's become an important food source for the homeless. We'd initially requested an interview.

"Look, we all want to assist the homeless," he began. "That's a very worthy cause."

But the mayor is pushing for something along the lines of what the Homeless Task Force has been recommending to the City Commission, a single service center where all groups could legally share meals, staying out of parks.

"In addition to providing meals, this type of facility could also serve as a central resource center, offering referrals for shelter, housing, health care, employment, veterans affairs, social security, substance abuse, and other services," says city spokesman Chaz Adams.

Seiler says he supports this because he wants to get people off the street instead of just letting them survive outside. "I believe that the best way you can help the homeless is not just to feed them a meal that's getting them to the next meal but have more of an impact and turn their life around... My goal is to reduce the number of homeless on the street."

That's a worthy goal, but it may prove unreasonably idealistic at this point (something for which the young Food Not Bombs activists typically get the blame): Local government and charity resources are already heavily stretched.

"Until the day arises when people are only on the street because they choose to be, that argument is invalid," says Robin Martin of HOPE South Florida, a coalition of the area's largest churches working to help the homeless.

As far as Food Not Bombs in particular, Seiler says, "I haven't had any run-ins with them, but I don't necessarily agree with their approach."

He also objects to claims that the city is turning a blind eye to the problem. "This isn't a City Commission that doesn't care about the homeless," he says, noting that he recently voted to expand the Homeless Assistance Center, an emergency shelter and food pantry on Sunrise Boulevard.

But with multiple proposals on a feeding location meeting resistance from various interest groups, the commission hasn't yet been able to act on the task force's recommendations, and talks haven't been too productive lately. "Pathetic and ridiculous," one homeless man in our story called the situation.

"The thing is kind of stalled," says Seiler. "A lot of different people put up roadblocks to the different options we're looking at. Our job as policymakers is to try to come up with a solution."

Food Not Bombs already has a solution: "Feed everybody, rich or poor, stoned or sober." Whether or not that fits the policy.


Follow The Pulp on Facebook and on Twitter: @ThePulpBPB. Follow Stefan Kamph on Twitter: @stefankamph, and Facebook.
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5 comments
Ana Campos
Ana Campos

"The thing is kind of stalled," says Seiler.

I think this is his legacy.

Here is another issue he could come out as a really good guy on. If Jack Seiler had any common sense or an ounce of empathy, he would stop listening to his advisers, and do the right thing and listen to his constituents. What Mayor 'Doesn't do Jack" Seiler forgot to mention was that he is also working on passing an ordinance to make sharing food with the homeless illegal.

If only there were more kids these days who cared about the making the world a better place and helping the homeless like Food Not Bombs does. Arresting and targeting young kids just for sharing their food with the homeless is disgraceful.

I continue to be amazed at how incredibly detached Mayor Jack Seiler is from any and all day to day issues, that affect all of us.

Without a doubt he hates baby sea turtles and apparently the homeless too.

Shame on you Jack.

nanook5
nanook5

"hasn't had any run-ins with them?" i've stood not more than 4 feet away from seiler advocating for food not bombs along with several others on multiple occasions telling him straight to his face that what he's doing is wrong. funny how i seem to remember that perfectly well.

in fact, the last time i told him people were going to go to jail for no reason over his stupid discrimination and within 10 days i was wrongfully arrested in downtown fort lauderdale about a block from stranahan park.

FUCK YOU mr mayor, and your despicable toad-man that follows you, i'm almost certain he's not human but everyone refers to him as harry stewart. i hope you're reincarnated as a baby sea turtle, only to be crushed into the gravel of A1A ...

Sam
Sam

I don't know how anyone can be against feeding the homeless, but the problem comes with the fact that many (most) homeless are suffering from mental illness and/or serious addiction issues and many act out in ways that are not appropriate for parks and recreation areas.  I've got a park near my home and there is a group that provides regular meals on Sat. a.m. which corresponds with my trip thru the park to the library.  I am kind and repectful to all humans, homeless or not, and I think they have every right to be in the park, but they are not always respectful in return and if I had children I would not permit them to walk through this park to the library because of the presence of homeless.

We also have a church on the edge of our neighborhood that allows the homeless to sleep on its property, these folks engage in bodily functions and are disruptive but its not trespassing because the church allows them but then the church won't police their behavior and the police feel like their hands are tied because the behavior is going on on private property but in full view of the neighbors.

The problem is complex and we really do need better services for homeless, especially single homeless men. 

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